Music Therapy and Nursing - A Non-Pharmacological Approach to Nursing

Music Therapy and Nursing - A Non-Pharmacological Approach to Nursing

As I am learning more and more about the profession of nursing I have become interested in non-pharmacological approaches to nursing. There are many times that medication is used to either progress a feeling or suppress it. I have looked to music therapy to provide the same outcome that medication provides without the side effects and wear and tear on the body. I believe that it is important for nurses to look to music to ease such feelings of pain, suffering, and to stimulate the mind and soul.

I have looked to music as a way of distraction in certain patients that are experiencing pain. There is an instance with a woman that was in labour and wanted to have as natural of a labour as she could handle. I was looking to things that I could do to ease her pain in a non medication way. I asked her if she had ever thought of using music as a means of distraction and she stated that she hadn’t. The hospital that I am completing my preceptorship at there is a wise variety of music that patients can chose from to ease their feelings or struggles that they are experiencing. I asked her if she thought that she would like music that would “pump her up” or calm her down. She thought that she needed something to calm her so I found a CD that had nature sounds such as rushing rivers, birds, wind, rain, and more. We put it on and although the reaction was not immediate, after about an hour this patient stated that she felt way more relaxed and with the music and proper breathing techniques she found herself handling the contractions much better. We had this type of music on for roughly 5 hours changing from CD to CD. Once she was in active labour, with more intense contractions and advancing to a dilation of 5-6 cm to fully dilated and through the “pushing”, she suggested that the music to be changed to something more upbeat. I put on a CD that had more of a POP feel to it and it just wasn’t quite what she wanted. Her husband stated that he had a “heavy metal” CD in the vehicle and wondered if the hospital would allow this type of music in the setting. I assured him that it would be fine as long as it was what the patient wanted. She stated that it was what she wanted so the CD was brought into the delivery room and it gave her just the motivation that she needed. She was very thankful and appreciative and stated that she did not think that she would have followed through with her birth plan to have natural labour if it weren’t for the music that I suggested.

Another case study that I was faced with in the labour setting was a woman that was 21 weeks along in her pregnancy and began to bleed heavily. I knew through research and studies that in this case the rate of survival for the baby was very slim. The patient was aware of this also. She was very stresses out and worried about her unborn child and I suggested that she have some soft music in her room to comfort her and relax her. She stated that it did help and she was able to come to terms with what was happening in her pregnancy. This woman was in the hospital for 10 days and the bleeding was not letting up. We all knew that it was only a matter of time until the fetus could not survive the environment that it was in and the baby would either die inuteruo or the woman would go into spontaneous labour and the baby would be delivered with a less than .5% chance of survival. On the 10th day of being in the hospital the inevitable happened and the baby was delivered. The mother and her husband were, as expected, devastated. The hospital allows the family to be together as long as they want and they are to let the nurse know when they are ready for the funeral director to come and take the deceased baby to the funeral home. While the family was having their last moments with the baby I asked if they would like some soft music in the background. They stated that they thought that was a great idea and that was set up for them. After several hours with the baby, the family decided it was time to say goodbye. I put on Sara Maglocklin’s song “Arms of an Angle” and the family said their goodbyes to their deceased child. After settling the mother and her husband in their room they could not express enough gratitude to me for allowing them the time and the music so that they were able to grieve in the way that they thought was the most healing for them. I was happy to do it for them and I think that in a way it was good for my grieving too.

There are many different ways that music can help people through good and hard times in life. I have found, even through just these two cases, that music has been the main factor in aiding these people through these such times. There are, of course, exceptions to every rule, but I will continue to use music in a healing way and I believe that this method of nursing will become more and more popular in the near future.