For some parents, choosing a soundtrack for their child's birth is a top priority.

Songs in the Key of Life

Music has always been an important part of Destiny Martin's life. So it made sense to bring her first child into the world with song. She even had one selected: the Beatles' "In My Life."

The mix CD she prepared for her delivery had a similar sampling of loving and peaceful music, from "Seasons of Love" from the Rent soundtrack to "What a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong.

So three years later, Martin, 29, finds it funny that baby Jolie entered the world not to Paul McCartney but to Metallica.

Martin had put the song "Nothing Else Matters" on the CD as a nod to her metal-loving husband, and that's what happened to be playing when their daughter was born. Martin said she finds the song's message appropriate, if humorous.

"Nothing else matters, that's the whole point," she said. "It never works out like you expect it."

Martin's efforts to usher her child into the world with music, are another way mothers are customizing their labor and delivery environment. And hospitals are doing their part to accommodate the trend, from piping in music to providing CD players or allowing parents to bring iPod docks and laptops.

Childbirth experts say couples are increasingly making music a part of their births, and the emergence of MP3 players allow them to draw from a wide variety of songs and to even put together playlists for different stages of labor.

Tina Cassidy, author of "Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born," (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2006) said it's natural for women to want music around them during labor.

"If you go way back into history, singing was always a part of giving birth," Cassidy said.

In cultures around the world, a birth was traditionally a social time for women, who would gather to offer their support to the mother, including singing hymns and songs of encouragement, she said.

Today's moms are using music in a variety of ways in the delivery room, bringing everything from meditative tapes to help them relax, to Salt-N-Pepa to help them, literally, "Push It."

"The benefits are that (music) does, in a lot of patients, blunt the stress response, which actually can contribute to some problems during labor, such as decreased blood flow to the fetus," said Dr. Fred Schwartz, an Atlanta physician.

Certified nurse-midwife Susan Huser of the University of California-Los Angeles said she believes both hospitals and newly empowered parents are responding to advances in technology.

"I think the whole iPod idea and being able to mix your own CD has motivated the change," she said. "The whole change in technology to allow people's music to be portable has been what's brought the change."

"In general, hospitals are recognizing that ... birth is a personal experience," she said.

That need to be in control can get moms into trouble. Trying to deliver to a certain song is a sweet idea but highly unlikely, experts said.

"You're cruising for a bruising if you're laying your expectations on everything going by the numbers," said Scott Adler, managing editor of

Cassidy was even more direct.

"At the end of the day, the best laid plans tend to go out the window — along with the iPod," she said.

But the music fates are not without a sense of humor. Lua Hancock, 31, of Davie, Fla., was in the midst of having an emergency C-section with her first child when she decided to focus on the music coming from the anesthesiologist's radio to calm her nerves. The song playing?

"The First Cut is the Deepest" by Sheryl Crow.

"I'm due in May with my second child, and that song will definitely be on (my iPod mix)," Hancock said, still chuckling three years later. "That's my C-section song."

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