An Unexpected Biomedical Researcher – A Music Therapy Study on Biomarkers in Primipara Lactating Mothers

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Image of music therapist and researcher Bhuvaneswari Ramesh

Music therapy in medical settings is beginning to show a lot of promise. With the evidence based practice of music therapy in obstetrics and gynaecology has brought about support from the interdisciplinary team to take music into pre, peri and post-partum pregnancy. There has been a welcome change in the NICU as well.

This presentation attempts to explain the effects of using of music and imagery with Indian classical music during delivery, post-delivery, and at 72 hours of delivery, 6 sessions of music and imagery with primipara women, studying the levels of oxytocin, prolactin, and lipid peroxidation through serum samples.

Lactation is affected by physical and psychological stress surrounding pregnancy and delivery for the mother which include the mode of delivery, duration of labour, medications, and the inability to suckle by the infant which could eventually lead to sub-optimal breast milk secretion or impaired lactogenesis. Oxytocin and prolactin among other hormones play a major role in lactating mothers. Oxytocin is also found useful in the smooth functioning of several processes of human anatomy It has also been established that stress can have an adverse effect on oxytocin. Physical stress that a mother goes through during delivery may be associated with oxidative stress.

Psychoneuroimmunology is a branch of studies that explains the constructs of the effect of stress on the psychology, neurology, and endocrine systems of the human body. Stress, physical or psychological can have a profound effect on the human body which is explained through the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system as well as the HPA axis.

Human beings are aerobic and thrive in oxygen. When produced in excess, free radicals and oxidants generate oxidate stress. Oxidative stress is an imbalance between the cellular production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and the counteracting antioxidant mechanisms and occurs when free radicals and antioxidants are out of balance.

Music in health care settings has been found to calm down mothers after delivery and prior to breastfeeding by reducing anxiety levels in mothers and consequently increasing the milk volume and suckling of the newborn. Research has shown that oxytocin levels can be regulated with music therapy, however, the number of studies is very lean. This would perhaps be the first time the biomarkers of lipid peroxidation and prolactin have been used to understand the effect in lactating primipara women and hope that there would be a biomedical perspective to the use of music therapy in lactating mothers.

Learner Objectives

1. Provide individualized music therapy experiences to address client’s: pain (e.g., physical, psychological)
2. Utilize the following music therapy approaches to inform clinical practice: medical, health and wellness
3. Employ mindfulness techniques with music.
4. Employ music relaxation and/or stress reduction technique
5. Utilize adaptive materials, equipment, and assistive technology.

Presenter Biography

Bhuvaneswari Ramesh is an Assistant Professor, Educator, and Researcher at the school of music therapy, ISCM, SBV, India. She practiced with varied populations within hospitals and community settings.