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How music may support perinatal mental health: an overview

Sanfilippo, K. R. ORCID: 0000-0003-2236-3307, Stewart, L. & Glover, V. (2021). How music may support perinatal mental health: an overview. Archives of Women's Mental Health, 24(5), pp. 831-839. doi: 10.1007/s00737-021-01178-5


There is strong evidence that engaging with music can improve our health and well-being. Music-based interventions, approaches and practices, such as group music-making (singing or playing musical instruments), listening to music and music therapy, have all been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Although the existing literature needs expanding, mounting evidence suggests that music-based interventions, approaches and practices may help support maternal mental health prenatally and postnatally. The purpose of this descriptive overview is to provide a broad view of this area by bringing together examples of research across different practices and research disciplines. Selected evidence is examined, showing how music-based interventions, approaches and practices can reduce labour anxiety and pain, anxiety symptoms in pregnancy, postnatal depression symptoms and support maternal-infant bonding. The examined research includes single studies and reviews that use both qualitative and quantitative methods. Drawing on animal and human models, the effect of music on foetal behaviour and various possible biological, psychological and social mechanisms are discussed. The potential preventive effect of music-based interventions, approaches and practices and their possible use across different cultures are also considered. Overall, we highlight how music, employed in a variety of ways, may support perinatal mental health with the aim of stimulating more interest and research in this area.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Publisher Keywords: Music, Singing, Prenatal, Postnatal, Mental health
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
M Music and Books on Music
R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
Departments: Bayes Business School > Management
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution International Public License 4.0.

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