Birth is a beautiful yet stressful experience. The woman’s body is being put to the maximum physical test and there are always concerns about possible complications. Despite the anxieties that go along with labor, the results are always worth the wait— and Dr. Carey Andrew Jaja from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has a special way of celebrating.
Nicknamed the “Singing Doctor” by patients and the media, Dr. Jaja has become famous for serenading newborn babies at the moment of their birth.
The Nigerian doctor, affiliated with Magee Woman’s Hospital UPMC, has delivered over 8,000 babies in the past 30 years and welcomes each one into the world with tunes ranging from “Happy Birthday” to “It’s a Wonderful Life.” He told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
“When I was doing my residency at Pittsburgh’s Allegheny General, there was a physician who used to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ very lustily to his babies. I liked that, and I would join him and we’d both really belt it out.”
“When he was retiring, he asked me to continue that tradition. ‘It’s all yours,’ he told me.”
“After the birth, if the mood is right, I like to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to the baby.”
“I ask everyone in the room the join in, and sometimes I’ll also throw in a lullaby of some sort.”
Singing to babies seems to be a common activity for caregivers around the world. But is there a bigger reason why? According to Sandra Trehub, a researcher at the University of Toronto, singing has many benefits, even greater than those that come from talking. Increased calm, stronger social bonds with parents, improved health, and greater language fluency are amongst them.
For a while, it was unclear if it was singing that was actually having an effect on the babies or if other factors (like parental presence) were contributing to the results. To figure it out, Trehub put the babies in a completely unfamiliar room without their parents. Some babies listened to a recording of a stranger talking while others listened to a stranger singing a song.
“Results showed that the babies listening to music remained calm twice as long as babies listening to speech,” UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Magazine explained.
Another study also showed that premature NICU infants exposed to parental singing showed improved heart and respiratory rates, better sleep and feeding patterns, and better weight gain— which leads me to believe that Dr. Jaja’s singing may be doing more good than we know!
Dr. Jaja said singing is his way of celebrating the baby’s birth and spreading joy to the people around him. “Expressing myself in that way, having brought a little bit of joy, it all comes around,” he said.
“When I’m singing to those babies, I think that I’m singing to a future important person.”
“That’s the credit I give to all of them.”
Dr. Jaja’s singing is indeed a joy to his staff and families at the hospital. Jamie Ford, a nurse at Magee told Trib Live, “We love to hear him sing. They love it— every patient I know.”
“To me, it’s a wonderful thing in my hand, the miracle of life.
“You forget about all the crisis going on everywhere, for a moment, when you see that miracle of life in front you.”
See the video below!
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