NPR logo

Songs For The Delivery Room: One Woman's Playlist

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/138821341/138837080" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Songs For The Delivery Room: One Woman's Playlist

Songs For The Delivery Room: One Woman's Playlist

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/138821341/138837080" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

MICHELE NORRIS, host: It is common these days for women giving birth to play DJ. Hospitals and birth centers recommend bringing music along for relaxation. Delivery rooms offer CD players or even docks for your iPod. All of which gives moms and dads too the chance to compose a soundtrack for the birth experience. As part of our series on women and childbirth, NPR's Alison MacAdam has her own story.

ALISON MACADAM: I hadn't given much thought to a birth soundtrack until I went to a preparatory class.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ORINOCO FLOW")

MACADAM: We watched a video of a woman in labor. As she moaned and pushed, you heard this playing in the background over and over and over.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ORINOCO FLOW")

ENYA: (Singing) Sail away, sail away, sail away. Sail away, sail away, sail away.

MACADAM: The soothing repetitive reverberations of Enya. Obviously, this video was dated. You could tell from the hairstyles. But this song represented everything I did not want to hear while giving birth. Labor is athletic. It's intense. For some people, it's terrifying. For some, it's exhilarating. And I wanted a beat.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HARD SUN")

MACADAM: I wanted to challenge the idea that you can engineer a calm environment for labor and that music might soothe the pain. And I wanted to inspire myself to keep going.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HARD SUN")

EDDIE VEDDER: (Singing) There's a big, a big hard sun beating on the big people in the big hard world.

MACADAM: Not all of the music in my mix is as grandiose as this Eddie Vedder song. I slapped a CD together pretty quickly. There's a song by a Somali-American hip-hop artist.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WAVIN' FLAG")

K'NAAN: When I get older, I will be stronger. They'll call me freedom, just like a waving flag. And then it goes back...

MACADAM: And some poppy jazz by Jamie Cullum.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LONDON SKIES")

JAMIE CULLUM: (Singing) Will you let me romanticize...

MACADAM: And The Avett Brothers, a combo of country, bluegrass and rock.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TEN THOUSAND WORDS")

THE AVETT BROTHERS: (Singing) Ain't it like most people? I'm no different. We love to talk on things we don't know about.

MACADAM: I did break some of my own rules making the mix, a couple of cheesy, easy-listening songs sneaked in, but what matters most: the mix worked.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I AM WAITING")

MACADAM: At first, when I was in labor, I didn't even notice my husband had turned on the music, but slowly, whispers of it reached me.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I AM WAITING")

OLLABELLE: (Singing) I am waiting. I am waiting. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

MACADAM: Waiting, an understatement for what I was doing. Now, I don't normally listen to lyrics, but this song by Ollabelle I had chosen for its soul and for its words.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I AM WAITING")

OLLABELLE: (Singing) Waiting for someone to come out of somewhere. Waiting for someone to come out of somewhere.

MACADAM: And when someone, my son Abraham, came out of somewhere, it seemed we had timed things perfectly. We reached the end of the CD, a triumphant finale.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I WISH YOU WELL")

MACADAM: I still get shivers thinking about cradling that tiny, beautiful boy and hearing Bill Withers sing...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I WISH YOU WELL")

BILL WITHERS: (Singing) I wish you flowers, sunshine and smiles.

MACADAM: Alison Macadam, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I WISH YOU WELL")

WITHERS: (Singing) I wish you children that grow to make you proud.

NORRIS: You can find Alison's entire labor mix at nprmusic.org, and we want to hear your stories about giving birth to music. What did you choose? Surprise us. You can write to us at npr.org.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I WISH YOU WELL")

WITHERS: (Singing) I wish you well.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Singing) Oh, I wish you well.

WITHERS: (Singing) I wish you well.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Singing) Oh, I wish you well.

WITHERS: I wish you well.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Singing) Oh, I wish you well.

WITHERS: (Singing) I wish you well.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Singing) Well.

WITHERS: (Singing) I wish you good friends that always treat you well. Want to wish you ribbons to tie around your hair. I wish you truckloads of cheer. Many...

NORRIS: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.