The effects of a music and singing intervention during pregnancy on maternal well-being and mother-infant bonding: a randomised, controlled study

Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2021 Jan;303(1):69-83. doi: 10.1007/s00404-020-05727-8. Epub 2020 Aug 10.


Purpose: Stress and impaired mother-infant bonding during pregnancy can lead to adverse effects for the expectant mother and the unborn child. The present study investigates whether a prenatal music and singing intervention can improve maternal well-being as well as mother-infant bonding.

Methods: A total of 172 pregnant women took part in this prospective, randomised, three-armed (music, singing or control group) study. Depressive symptoms, self-efficacy, maternal well-being and mother-infant bonding were assessed with visual analogue scales and questionnaires before the intervention phase (30th week of gestation) and afterwards (36th week of gestation). Additionally, immediate changes regarding experienced stress and mood from before until after the music and singing interventions were explored with questionnaires as well as saliva samples (for cortisol, alpha-amylase and oxytocin determination).

Results: Regarding immediate effects, both interventions showed positive effects on the emotional state, stress (cortisol) and bonding (oxytocin). Additionally, the singing group showed a larger reduction in cortisol and a larger improvement in valence than the music group. Looking at more prolonged effects, significant effects on general self-efficacy and perceived closeness to the unborn child (measured with a visual analogue scale) were found. No significant effects were revealed for the mother-infant bonding questionnaire and for depressive symptoms.

Conclusion: In the present study, promising effects of music and in particular singing on maternal well-being and perceived closeness during pregnancy appeared. Prenatal music and singing interventions could be an easy to implement and effective addition to improve mood and well-being of the expectant mother and support mother-infant bonding.

Trial registration number: DRKS00012822, date of registration: 17.10.2017.

Keywords: Maternal well-being; Mother–infant bonding; Music; Pregnancy; Singing.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Mental Health
  • Mother-Child Relations*
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Music / psychology*
  • Music Therapy
  • Object Attachment*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Singing*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult