Many historians agree that belly dancing was created to help women to carry and to give a birth. Ancient forms of this dance have been practiced for hundreds of years right across the Globe. Women from Egypt, Morocco, Hawaii, New Zealand, India and many other countries have been doing circle-dances or belly dancing for pregnancy involving figure-eight movements since time began.
All these forms of dance, which use circular hip movements, help with childbirth.
There are several different types of belly dance but most of them involve doing slow, undulating and rolling motions, such as hip circles and figure-eight movements. Many women in labor naturally move in the circular motion of belly dance. It's a natural way to get your baby in the best position for birth. It can even encourage labor to start!
Thus, the benefits of belly dancing pregnancy are invaluable.It will help mother-to-be:
- to strengthen the pelvic and deep abdominal muscles that specifically used for giving birth
- to teach the body to relax and relieve stress
- to encourages the baby into a forward (anterior) lying position – an optimal position for labor and birth
- to move a posterior baby off your back.
- to improve self-confidence and positive body-image
- to aid and encourage good posture
- to maintain your fitness habit
- to promote good balance and co-ordination
- to relieve pregnancy back pain and morning sickness
- to improve abdominal control and awareness
- to maintain pelvic floor tone and therefore reduces chances of uterine prolapse in later life
- to strengthen your leg muscles for labor
- to maintain the shape of the breasts and prepare for lactation
- to meet other expectant Moms if you attend a class
However, as with any activity during pregnancy, a mother-to-be should very careful.
First of all, belly dancing is not recommended if you have pregnancy complications such as Gestational Diabetes, Pre-eclampsia, Placenta Previa or a history of premature labor.
Talk to your doctor before you decide to take the class. Also, bear in mind that not many doctors are aware of what the belly dancing is, so your main authority is your own body, and you baby.
Second, remember that the first and the last trimester is the time when you have to be extra couscous.
Even during the second trimester there are certain movements that should be avoided.
- Shimmies can stimulate your baby, so it's best to avoid them until you're near your due date.
- Very sharp sudden movements can scary the baby and limit your sensitivity.
- Back bends, sharp hip twists, jumps are not good for the uterus.
- Avoid spinning. If you feel dizzy or faint stop and sit down.
All the movements should be performed softly, slowly, and with great awareness of your body sensations. Soften your hip drops, hip lifts & flicks during belly dancing for pregnancy. Keep well hydrated, drink plenty of water. Have a small healthy snack an hour or two before dancing.
Choose the music carefully. Some babies are very picky about the pace and volume of the music that they hear outside.
Childbirth professionals encourage the practice of belly dance for pregnancy. And I recommend it for labor too! The music is hypnotic and can take you to an altogether different place, so you can be taken away from the anxious state-of-mind that you may find yourself in.
From time to time, I offer Healing Belly Dancing Classes where we practice belly dancing as a meditation, with a great awareness of each movement. Please let me know if you are interested in such classes.