Visualizing Birth through music: Linda Arnold and Eric Thiermann’s “Nine Months: Songs of Pregnancy and Birth”

Nine Months: Songs of Pregnancy and Birth (front cover), 1981
Compositions by Linda Arnold. Produced by Eric Thiermann

Last month, I was delighted to hear from Eric Thiermann and we corresponded about an album called Nine Months: Songs of Pregnancy and Birth that he produced over 40 years ago, and which features Linda Arnold’s folk songs about birth. Eric had just read an article I wrote for Aeon+Psyche called I saw my baby as a river flowing through me, and gave birth, and the album that he produced includes a birth song called River. It is a beautiful folk song that helps in the visualization of birth, comparing the sensations of labor to the swells and breaks of ocean waves. The song also imagines birth as a flow through which baby leaves the womb and emerges into the world. Here are some of the lyrics to the song:

Let the ocean be my guide
when the pains of labor greet me
swelling up and breaking just like waves out on the sea
oh I’m gonna let this little child flow right out of me

Imagining the surges of labor as the swells and breaks of ocean waves is a wonderful visualization for a laboring woman. Linda Arnold’s soprano voice is calming, as is the gentle sound of her guitar. Pregnant women may find comfort and strength in the album and in Arnold’s soothing voice. 30 second clips of all songs on the album are available here, and the entire album is available for purchase through Folkways Smithsonian and elsewhere (Spotify, Amazon, etc.).

Eric explained the making of this special album to me:

I spent a couple of years with Linda putting it together. Women with their first pregnancy found it very helpful, but the midwifery contingent is still very small which limited the distribution. I looked at is as a personal journey, kind of a passion project for our daughter Ariel, the new life to be.

In discussing the album, the Folkways website also quotes Mothering magazine, stating that the sounds are a “musical journey from the first days of pregnancy to the cry of the newborn babe.”

Visualizing Birth has previously discussed the power of wave and water visualizations for pregnant and laboring women, as well as envisioning caves that open onto the sea to help in the process of birth, which may also be helpful as labor and birth approach (see: Cave Opening Visualizations).

Eric also produced a film on midwifery in Santa Cruz called, “Push – A Woman’s Western,” which Visualizing Birth will discuss in a future post.

Linda Arnold is a musician who studied music and theater arts at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Over the years, she has created a number of albums, videos, and television specials, and is especially known for her children’s music. She has also recorded music with her daughter, Ariel, who is also a musician.

Eric Thiermann is Co-founder and CEO of My Connected Universe and has filmed hundreds of media projects in over 40 countries for industry and non-profits. See here for more information on his work.

Nine Months: Songs of Pregnancy and Birth (back cover)