Next week at the World Conference on Health Promotion in Geneva, experts from Britain will present “overwhelming evidence” that singing has a profound and positive effect on mental health. In fact, research on the benefits of singing is so strong it could lead to “prescriptive singing.”
This news got me thinking about how singing affects new parents. After all, singing is something most parents do regardless of musical talent or love of song. Is it possible that lullabies evolved not just to soothe babies, but their parents, too?
According to the “Barbershop Harmony Society“:
- “Singing releases endorphins into your system and makes you feel energized and uplifted. People who sing are healthier than people who don’t.
- Singing gives the lungs a workout
- Singing tones abdominal and intercostal muscles and the diaphragm, and stimulates circulation.
- Singing makes us breathe more deeply than many forms of strenuous exercise, so we take in more oxygen, improve aerobic capacity and experience a release of muscle tension as well.”
This reads like a postpartum mental health checklist: Improved circulation, abdominal muscle toning, increased energy, tension release. Sign me up.
A first time mom I know who sings in a choir, had this to say: “There are so many times when I think ‘holy shit I just don’t know what to do’ and when ever that happens I SING. Helps at least 80 percent of the time.”
I sang to my babies every day, despite being utterly tone deaf. There was something beautiful and un-selfconscious about it. I have fond memories of hearing my husband have a go at it, too. There he would be, in the dark, rocking a tiny swaddled baby in his arms: “On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair….”
I can attest the therapeutic powers of postpartum singing. I wonder if treatment for the baby blues might one day include, Rock-A-Bye Baby.