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Back when I was preparing for the birth of my first son, I was nervous and excited. I had been working as a music therapist for over five years so music was an important part of my birth plan. I spent hours making playlists.

When I finally went into labor, my music got me through about half of the labor. Frustrated and tired, I turned it off. I went on to have a very gentle birth, but I still mourned the birth I wanted. Why had the music failed me?

Two years after my son’s birth, I attended a Sound Birthing Music workshop on music therapy for birth. I learned about the use of music, but even more, I learned things about birth that were never even mentioned in my birth class, on the most popular web sites, or in books I had read during my pregnancy.

That training was an eye opener. And it was a good thing I was catching up because I also learned I was pregnant again.

During the following nine months, I continued my education-attended doula training and became a Creative Arts Birthing Specialist. Doula training helped me tap into the physical supports. The art activities helped me tap into emotional supports for myself and clients.

I believe that birth happens to the family as a unit-not just the birthing woman.

I prepared for my birth by getting the support I needed-even found a new care provider. My second birth was as different from my first as night is from day. The irony is that we didn’t have time to play music until after the birth-we nearly had the baby in the car.

The music and art I used during the pregnancy helped me set the stage for the growth I needed in this time. That growth and the confidence that came with it set the stage for a wonderful and healing birth experience.

I believe birth is profound and that it affects the mother, her partner, and the child for the rest of their lives. I believe that birth happens to the family as a unit-not just the birthing woman. Family deserves evidence-based care,  emotional support, education, compassion, and respect as they prepare for and experience this monumental event.

Maura graduated with her music therapy degree from Illinois State University in 2005. She worked with families and children with developmental disabilities until 2015. She created the Pregnancy Mentoring Program and is a Music Therapy Assisted Childbirth specialist. She writes the blog posts for St. Louis Birth Rhythms.