May 20, 2014
Pregnant women, compared to their non-pregnant counterparts, rate music as more intensely pleasant and unpleasant, associated with greater changes in blood pressure, a study has demonstrated. Music appears to have an especially strong influence on pregnant women, a fact that may relate to a prenatal conditioning of the fetus to music.
Music can be soothing or stirring, it can make us dance or make us sad. Blood pressure, heartbeat, respiration and even body temperature -- music affects the body in a variety of ways. It triggers especially powerful physical reactions in pregnant women.
Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig have discovered that pregnant women compared to their non-pregnant counterparts rate music as more intensely pleasant and unpleasant, associated with greater changes in blood pressure. Music appears to have an especially strong influence on pregnant women, a fact that may relate to a prenatal conditioning of the fetus to music.
According to the results, music is a very special stimulus for pregnant women, to which they react strongly. "Every acoustic manipulation of music affects blood pressure in pregnant women far more intensely than in non-pregnant women," says Fritz. Why music has such a strong physiological influence on pregnant woman is still unknown.
Originally, the scientists suspected the hormone estrogen to play a mayor part in this process, because it has an influence on the brain's reward system, which is responsible for the pleasant sensations experienced while listening to music. However, non-pregnant women showed constant physiological responses throughout the contraceptive cycle, which made them subject to fluctuations in estrogen levels.
"Either estrogen levels are generally too low in non-pregnant women, or other physiological changes during pregnancy are responsible for this effect," explains Fritz.