Singing and hypnobirthing - the Q&A

The lovely Lydia from My Hypnobirth asked me a few questions for her blog recently, related to my Lullaby Edit project - I was really happy to, as I love hypnobirthing. It really got me through my own birth experience, though that's a whooole other story, one for another time (!) And I've recently been thinking about the links between it and singing, and how one really feeds into the other. Singing to your baby is a hugely bonding experience, and this doesn't need to just start when your baby is earth-side. As well as the bonding aspect, there's the fact that your baby is listening in, and tuning into your voice from around 26 weeks, and shows a preference for the mother's voice straight after birth. Studies have shown (as well as lots of people telling me this too!) that babies recognise the songs that they've been hearing in the womb. I believe that it's a wonderful accompaniment to the hypnobirthing process, and the preparation for birth and motherhood. I've admired Lydia's instagram page for a while - it's gorgeous, full of lovely pics and quotes (and she has great taste in kids names, what can I say....😜) so go follow! Her website is www.myhypnobirthlondon.com. Enjoy!

My name is Lydia, I grew up in Brighton and I have been living in South East London for well over ten years now. I live with my husband Patrick, two children Rosie & Bax and baby number three is on the way soon!

I’m a qualified KGHypnobirthing teacher, a member of the Hypnobirthing Association. I launched My Hypnobirth to  help women and their partners prepare for a positive, empowered birthing experience where they feel in the driving seat. I run small group Hypnobirthing courses at The Honor Oak Wellness Rooms,  and I also teach privately in and around London. I have one space for a couple to join my April course and now booking for May!

And here are the brilliant questions she asked me, I got a bit carried away but hopefully it's as interesting to you as to me!!

1) What is the idea behind Mama Sings and what inspired you to launch it ? 

I had Otis in 2016, and about a year later, decided to get my act together and bring together the various strands of my work and life, to create Mama Sings. Whilst I've been leading different music projects for years, including for little ones, a penny dropped when I had Otis. The desire to sing to him and with him was STRONG (and still is), and I realised that it's common to lots of new parents - singing suddenly becomes something you're doing every minute of the day, whether it be twinkle twinkle or making up a nonsense song to try and get your wriggly baby to stay on the changing mat. I also felt a bit stumped at times when looking for something nice to play to him, and though I'm a musician, felt a bit confused by the huge amount of 'stuff' out there on Spotify and Youtube but the quality was mostly pretty horrendous. I wanted to try and bring something fresh to the table that was as much about the parent, as the child.

2) What is it that makes Mama Sings different from other nursery rhyme sing song sessions!? and what's in it for the parents, do they enjoy it too?

Such a great question!! When I lead sessions and projects, I definitely sometimes sing nursery rhymes, but I so also believe that the parent is so often overlooked...  My whole vision is that parents understand the power in their own voices and sing more with their kids (being a 'good' singer really doesn't come into it!) - as this is such a powerful thing; a great tool to add into the mix of parenting a baby/toddler, and a lot of fun for everyone. So engaging parents in the sessions is something I always try to do! I tend to introduce songs that are a bit different - repetitive but a satisfying sing, with harmonies that build for example...sometimes songs in other languages. And also I introduce songs that I've written, that aren't your standard kinds of nursery rhymes...  

3) Can you tell me more about the benefits of singing to your baby? And do you think babies really do respond to singing before they are even born?

Ooo where do I start... babies start to hear sounds at around 24 weeks. As the mother's voice is the most consistent sound to them, we know that they recognise it, it's comforting and equates to love, comfort and protection - and they definitely do hear our voices in utero, as newborn babies show a preference for their mother's voice. We sing lullabies to our new babies the world over, and have done for millennia. It's a universal language, and we subconsciously match the early preferences of our babies through our vocalisations... not surprisingly then, it helps foster bonding and secure attachments, especially in mothers suffering with postnatal depression and anxiety, where a study last year showed a much quicker rate of recovery in those mothers that did regular singing with their babies. It's all clever stuff!! With a slightly older toddler / child, a song regularly gets me out of a sticky situation!! I think singing can be a really lovely part of the birth preparation process, with lots of parallels to hypnobirthing - and can really help you bond with your baby in utero. 

4) Helping to make babies, toddlers and parents smile sounds like the cutest job in the world, what do you love most about it?

I do love what I do, and am even more passionate about it as time goes on - and going through the whole experience of pregnancy, birth, fourth trimester as well as being a parent now to an active toddler reinforces how singing can really be an antidote to stress! I've also been leading a big project this year which is all about songwriting with parents, which has been lots of fun and really satisfying, to create new songs for people to sing and use at home. I think the most satisfying bit of my work is more when I know that what I've done in one moment, has inspired a parent or child outside of the project, that they're singing a new song, or making up silly ones of their own!

6) Can you tell us more about your community music projects?

I've been leading music projects for other fab organisations that work with children and young people for 10 years or more, but have recently really zoomed in on early years. I've led projects for Breathe Arts Health Research recently who are amazing and run a singing project for mothers suffering from post-natal depression. I've also been doing a lot of songwriting with parents of under 2's - which is a project of my own design called 'London Rhymes' (www.londonrhymes.com) with Creative Futures which is really important to me. The BEST songs come out of these sessions, when it's a collaboration with other musicians and with other parents - and it's sooo much fun. I believe that parents are naturally pretty creative, we have to be with some of the situations we find ourselves in!! We all have a unique experience of parenthood, but there are definitely some universals... I'm passionate about the role that singing can play in the everyday, and not just in the 'music class'.