Songs for Someone New – Helping Mums and Dads Tune Into Their Babies

A group of parents-to-be in Forth Valley have been tuning into their babies, courtesy of a new online project described as health and ‘edutainment.’ The website, which contains audio clips designed for parents to listen to during pregnancy, was developed following recent research which suggested that fetuses can hear sounds as young as 16 weeks gestation.

The audio tracks have been compiled by sound artist, Mark Vernon and writer Nicola White, who met with Camelon Young Parents Group in Falkirk and maternity day care patients at Forth Valley Royal Hospital for a series of recorded conversations. These interviews formed the basis of the song lyrics written by Nicola which were then set to music composed by Bill Wells and performed by the National Jazz Trio of Scotland.

The three songs can be downloaded individually or as a complete piece from the maternity services section of the NHS Forth Valley website. They are ideal for playing or singing to a baby before and after its birth. It has been shown that children remember songs or music they hear in the womb, and these familiar sounds can be useful for settling them after they have been born.

NHS Forth Valley Midwifery Team Leader Lorraine Donnelly, who interviewed a number of parents for the project, explained: “What a baby hears mostly is the sound of its mother’s body, the beat of her heart, the blood whooshing in the veins, her voice. It can also hear the world outside her body – the voices of those nearby, music, laughter or loud noises.

“Talking to your unborn child is a great way to start forming bonds – not only the mother, but the father, friends and family members can also begin a relationship with the baby in this way.”

By tuning into a new baby, parents can also recognise its movements, its patterns of activity and sleeping; this knowledge is vital and could help alert them to potential problems during the baby’s development. The new website also offers advice on what to do if there are any concerns about fetal movements.”

NHS Forth Valley Midwife Debbie Forbes, who has been working with the project, said: “I think it’s lovely for women because it gives them a chance to express themselves when it comes to experiencing their baby’s movements. As well as tuning in to foetal movement, it’s also an opportunity for starting conversation with an unborn child. The aim is to engage the widest audience possible to talk to their babies before birth without feeling embarrassed.”

The project was commissioned by NHS Forth Valley’s Women & Children’s Unit and funded by a grant from the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) and was produced as part of NHS Forth Valley’s Arts and Wellbeing programme in partnership with local arts organisation Artlink Central.CDs featuring the songs are also being distributed to a number of community groups across Forth Valley.

The website can be accessed at on the maternity services section of the NHS Forth Valley Website or directly via the following link