Most massage sessions feature relaxing background music. The soothing effects of music is a topic getting increasing attention from investigators—and new research suggests listening to music has a stress-reducing effect in surgical procedures.

The objective of the study was to learn the effects of listening to selected music while waiting for a cesarean section on emotional reactions, on cognitive appraisal of the threat of surgery, and on stress-related physiological reactions, according to an abstract by Wiley, which published the research in its journal Birth.

The researchers asked 30 women to wait for their elective cesarean section alone, without music. Another 30 women listened to favorite music they had selected themselves.

All the women reported their mood and threat perception before and after the waiting/music period, and a nurse measured their vital signs.

“Women who listened to music before a cesarean section had a significant increase in positive emotions and a significant decline in negative emotions and perceived threat of the situation when compared with women in the control group, who exhibited a decline in positive emotions, an increase in the perceived threat of the situation, and had no change in negative emotions,” the abstract stated. The women who listened to their favorite music also showed a significant decrease in systolic blood pressure compared with a significant increase in diastolic blood pressure and respiratory rate in the control group, according to the abstract.

“Listening to favorite music immediately before a cesarean section may be a cost-effective, emotion-focused coping strategy,” the investigators wrote.

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