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Singing the blues: how music can help ease postnatal depression

Melodies for Mums singing class uses songs specially chosen to improve confidence and bonding

In the snug warmth of a children’s centre a group of mothers sing with their babies. But there is no Wheels on the Bus, no Wind the Bobbin Up. Instead, the women work their way through folk songs, lullabies and gospel, switching from Spanish to Hebrew to Igbo and Zulu and deftly following the group’s leader as she introduces rounds and three-part harmonies.

This is a singing class designed not to entertain the babies – though they are perfectly happy as they chew on miniature maracas – but for the women themselves. Melodies for Mums, run by the not-for-profit social enterprise Breathe Arts Health Research, aims to help new mothers with postnatal depression (PND), or those at risk of it, combat their symptoms by singing songs specially chosen to improve confidence and help them bond with their babies. No musical experience is necessary.

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