Belly dancing for childbirth
The idea of belly dancing during pregnancy in preparation for childbirth is not a new method of childbirth preparation.
- The history of belly dancing
- Belly dancing and childbirth
- The benefits of belly dancing and birth
- Some things to consider
Belly dancing has its origins from ancient times in the Middle East, and has spread throughout South East Asia, India, Greece and eventually has reached the Western world. In the 21st century belly dancing has become a popular way to exercise safely during pregnancy.
In ancient times, dance was an integral part of daily rituals including childbirth. A dance by women for women, belly dancing in its most potent form is a safe and effective dance expression that supports women throughout pregnancy, and helps them to prepare for natural conscious childbirth.
One of the main goals of belly dancing is to allow the woman to work with nature, by moving with and not against the rhythmic surges (contractions), which facilitate childbirth. The primal movements support and nurture a woman’s subconscious instincts and ability to give birth naturally.
Belly dance is a celebration of the strength and beauty of women, and is a natural way for women to connect with their feminine side, their fertility, sensuality and creative powers of pregnancy and birthing.
The benefits of belly dancing for pregnancy and birth include:
- Increases muscle tone, flexibility and circulation
- Hip movements help to optimize fetal positioning for labour, avoiding a posterior position
- Helps to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles
- May reduce tension and anxiety if present
- Helps to improve posture and reduce lower back ache
- Stimulates a deep connection with your amazing body, and your baby
- Enhances self esteem and improves body image
- Focusing on and connecting with your primal brain and the birthing knowledge which lies within
During birthing, women need strong, flexible muscles to support and facilitate the progress of childbirth. Belly dancing exercises, and strengthens all the muscle groups needed for giving birth. Good posture and strong thigh muscles enable women to adopt more upright positions without difficulty during their labour and birthing.
As with any exercise program, if you have any medical complications or injuries it is advisable to see your doctor before commencing a new form of exercise. Specific guidelines during pregnancy include:
- Good hydration during and after exercise
- Avoid overheating, by exercising in light, loose clothing in a cool, well ventilated room
- Do warm up exercises before any routine
- Do not exercise if you feel unwell or have a fever
- In the second trimester avoid exercises which involve lying flat on your back
Similar to yoga, and other forms of exercise, which facilitate the mind, body and spirit connection, belly dancing improves body awareness and encourages women to connect deeply with her changing body and her unborn baby. Finally, belly dancing is great fun, makes you feel good, enables you to meet like-minded women and make new friends.
Photography: Frank Kovalchek @Flickr