Music and Motherhood

The Impact of Creative Interventions on Symptoms of Postnatal Depression

Music and Motherhood explores how creative engagement can support the wellbeing of new mothers.

Post-natal depression (PND) is thought to affect at least 13% of new mothers, with symptoms including persistent low mood, fatigue, insomnia, feelings of guilt or hopelessness, and anxiety about the baby. While there is evidence that psychosocial and psychological interventions are an effective treatment option for PND, there remain challenges with pharmacological treatment models. Consequently, research into promising psychosocial interventions such as music is critical to developing new paradigms for treating PND and supporting families.

Music and Motherhood investigates the effectiveness of creative interventions, including singing and play, as a psychosocial tool to reduce the occurrence and effects of PND symptoms. It combines psychological and biological data in a randomised controlled design to provide a comprehensive insight into how and why creative activities may support postnatal wellbeing. The intervention study is supplemented by a cohort study of over 2,000 women tracking the interactions between mental wellbeing, symptoms of PND, and involvement in creative activities in women during pregnancy and the first year of motherhood.

Research findings will be shared internationally with health professionals, policy makers, researchers, and arts organisations to inform protocols guiding the design and implementation of postnatal creative interventions.

Project team

Rosie Perkins, RCM (PI)
Daisy Fancourt, UCL
Diana Roberts, RCM
Sarah Yorke, RCM


ChelWest NHS Foundation Trust
RCM Sparks
RCM Creative Careers Centre

Supported by

Arts Council England

Learn more

Fancourt D & Perkins R (forthcoming), Singing for mother-infant bonding: the effects of mother-infant singing on emotional closeness, affect and anxiety, Music & Science.

Fancourt D & Perkins R (forthcoming), The effect of singing interventions on symptoms of postnatal depression: a three-arm randomised controlled trial, British Journal of Psychiatry.

Fancourt D & Perkins R (forthcoming), Does attending community music interventions lead to changes in wider musical behaviours? The effect of mother-infant singing classes on musical behaviours amongst mothers with symptoms of postnatal depression, Psychology of Music.

Fancourt D & Perkins R (forthcoming), Maternal engagement with music up to nine months post-birth: findings from a cross-sectional study in England, Psychology of Music.

Yorke S & Perkins R (2017), Music and Motherhood – Facilitating Interventions for Mothers and their Babies, Royal College of Music [PDF].

Fancourt D & Perkins R (2017), Associations between singing to babies and symptoms of postnatal depression, wellbeing, self-esteem and mother-infant bond, Public Health, 145, 149-152 [DOI].