Labour party

There is a lovely bit in Nick Hornby’s book Slam where the protagonist’s baby boy is born to the sound of Rufus Wainwright. He ends up being called Rufus, or “Roof”.

I read this book a few years ago now but this scene lodged itself in my head, and since then I always imagined my own labour would include some sort of soundtrack. In the book, the father’s CD is rejected (fast skater music), the mother’s CD is also rejected (too R&B) – the one they finally agree on is the grandmother’s, which is all soothing and gentle.


A couple of days ago I set about creating my own labour compilation, fortunately not having to burn any CDs, but just dragging things across to a playlist. My method was to go down the contents of our iTunes alphabetically, and select anything that I thought I might want to listen to while in labour. I ended up with 7.2 hours of listening pleasure, from the more obvious chill out sounds of Massive Attack, Air and various “Relaxing Classics” to Coldplay and Blur. With lots of Norah Jones and Dido in between. We’re going to bring both the speakers and the earphones so I can choose whether to listen privately or share my sometimes dubious musical choices with the midwives.

In a desperate attempt to try and make myself laugh, I also included Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire, which may be particularly relevant during the second stage of labour.

The problem is, never having given birth before, it’s very difficult to predict what type of music I’m going to want to listen to (if any! I’m fully aware that this could well be a pointless exercise. In the event, I may just want The Sound of Silence… which is, incidentally, also on my playlist). My Dad suggested putting some Christmas songs on there so I can sing along and feel joyful. Although this was mostly a joke, I have actually put my love for musicals aside and have only included Climb Ev’ry Mountain from the Sound of Music. I don’t think there will be much singing going on!

As I’m hoping to undertake labour and birth in the tranquil atmosphere of a birthing pool in the midwife-led centre, the playlist reflects what you might choose to have in the background during a spa treatment. No whale noises or panpipes though – I do have some standards! However, I have a feeling the stuff I’ve chosen might start to get irritating. Spas don’t normally involve pain, unless you are having a sports massage I guess, which needless to say is something I’ve never experienced! I think maybe on the day I will need something stronger psychologically than Sheryl Crow warbling No-one Said it would be Easy (duh!)

I therefore have a backup: the Rocky IV soundtrack. Earlier this year Mr Cath and I watched all the films again (well, I-IV) and I remember thinking “this could be inspirational for when I’m in labour and I need to get the eye of the tiger”. Burning HeartThere’s No Easy Way Out… not to mention the training montage of course. Giving birth can’t possibly be harder than lifting entire tree trunks and sprinting up snowy mountains, right? Right?!

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