The Benefits of Music for Mama and Baby

Postpartum depression impacts 13% – approximately 1 in 8 – of new mothers, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe.

A Brief Review of the Royal College of Music London’s ‘Music and Motherhood’ Project

Standard treatments across the globe include mental health and pharmacological interventions. (World Health Organization, 2015) Seeking help for postpartum depression – mainly pharmacological support – can carry a stigma or set of concerns for new mothers.

Musical therapy research + its impact on postpartum depression

In an interview with the BBC, British researcher Dr. Daisy Fancourt pointed out that “many mothers have concerns about taking depression medication whilst breast-feeding and uptake of psychological therapies with new mothers is relatively low.”(BBC News, 2018)

To combat this, Fancourt and fellow researchers Rosie Perkins and Sarah Yorke teamed up to investigate the impact of musical interventions for new mothers. 

Listen in: A Look at Music Therapy and Postpartum Depression

What they found: the promising results

Through the Royal College of Music London in a project called ‘Music and Motherhood’, Fancourt, Perkins, and Yorke conducted a randomized control trial in which they created a 10-week series of group singing classes for new mothers and their babies.

They compared the results of this intervention to those of a 10-week playgroup for mothers and new babies and those of a 10-week course of typical care new mothers receive in the United Kingdom. (Fancourt & Perkins, 2018; Yorke & Perkins, 2017)

The data gathered from this project found that the mothers in the singing group showed a significantly faster improvement in severe symptoms of postpartum depression than mothers in the other two groups. (Fancourt & Perkins, 2018) Additionally, mothers in the singing group reported an enhanced sense of wellbeing, self-esteem, and closer bond with their babies. (Fancourt & Perkins, 2017)

“Post-natal depression is debilitating for mothers and their families, yet our research indicates that for some women something as accessible as singing with their baby could help to speed up recovery at one of the most vulnerable times of their lives,” Dr. Perkins observed (BBC News, 2018).

Why results were important for recovery

The results of this project are incredibly exciting because they show how engagement in music can be an inexpensive and effective non-pharmacological intervention for new mothers suffering from the impact of postpartum depression. Motherhood can be such an isolating experience, especially during these COVID-times. Classes like these are a great outlet and source of connection for both you (mama) and baby.

music and motherhood

Interested in learning more?

As a music educator, one challenge to using music as a tool for healing is that music classes directed toward baby and mama can be few and far between. I teach these classes as often as I can via Zoom; however, if classes are not an option for you, you can always engage with baby through music at home.

I hope you find some inspiration and feel a sense of empowerment about your own ability to engage musically with your baby through the guide attached to this article.  You can find more information about upcoming Music for Mamas classes at my Instagram account @marysperline and you can learn more about the Music and Motherhood project through the Royal College of Music London’s website.

Grab your free guide! Download a copy of our Mama’s Guide to Engaging in Music with Baby to start your bonding and recovery experience your baby.

Article sources

BBC News (2018), Singing ‘speeds up’ recovery from post-natal depression. Retrieved 2020, from

Fancourt D & Perkins R (2017), Associations between singing to babies and symptoms of postnatal depression, wellbeing, self-esteem and mother-infant bond, Public Health, 145, 149-152 [DOI].

 Fancourt D & Perkins R (2018), Effect of singing interventions on symptoms of postnatal depression: three-arm randomised controlled trial, The British Journal of Psychiatry[DOI].

Fancourt D & Perkins R (2018), Effect of singing interventions on symptoms of postnatal depression: three-arm randomised controlled trial, The British Journal of Psychiatry[DOI].

Yorke S & Perkins R (2017), Music and Motherhood – Facilitating Interventions for Mothers and their Babies, Royal College of Music [PDF].

World Health Organization (2015), Maternal mental health. Retrieved 2020, from

Mary Sperline

Certified Music Educator

Mary Ardington Sperline is a health and wellbeing advocate and certified music educator. She graduated with distinction from the Royal College of Music London’s Master of Science in Performance Science program in 2017. Mary currently teaches music to K-5 students at an elementary school in the Pacific Northwest. Her passion is making the healing power of music accessible for everyone, especially postpartum mamas.

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