7:00AM GMT 22 Mar 2011
The “womb song” classes are intended to boost language skills in infants and also help mothers develop a closer bond with them.
Women who attend the classes are taught how to sing a range of songs including rounds and lullabies – although not nursery rhymes.
Maya Waldman, who runs the project, said: “The repertoire is a selection of quite simple and inspiring songs from around the world. They are quite soulful, some are uplifting and some relaxing.
“One of the goals is increasing the chance of people singing to their children.”
The Womb Song workshops, which started in January for women booked into the maternity unit at Chelsea and Westminster NHS foundation trust in west London, are based on the idea that unborn babies respond to music and their parents’ voices.
It is hoped that singing “can provide emotional, social, educational and physical benefits for women and their babies during pregnancy, labour and after birth”.
The classes are intended to “strengthen communication” between mother and child but also “prepare for labour through vocal and breathing exercises”, and “build musical confidence and repertoire”.
So far about 10 mothers-to-be have been attending the 90-minute classes, which are part-funded by the local authority and the hospital’s health charity and free for the participants.
They are thought to be the first singing for health project aimed at pregnant women in the NHS.
Anna Matthams, arts assistant for the Chelsea and Westminster’s health charity, said: “Singing is a very early form of communication and expression.
“The baby’s auditory system is one of the first things to develop and there’s a lot of physiological evidence that singing helps with language development.”
Liz Neale, a first-time mother who has attended the classes, said she felt self-conscious talking to her baby in the womb but enjoyed singing to her.
“I'm a first-time mum but we were very calm and relaxed for her birth at Chelsea and Westminster - I'm sure the singing really helped,” she said.
Article originally posted at www.telegraph.co.uk