Belly Dancing for Pregnancy
Belly dance is a great preparation for childbirth, because it strengthens the pelvic and deep abdominal muscles, giving you better support for the baby during pregnancy and an easier labor. Stronger abdominal muscles also means your tummy will regain its tone more quickly after the birth.
I'm not suggesting you head for your nearest bellydance school and start shimmying, though! Because belly dance moves are so focussed in the pelvic area, you shouldn't expect to do the same moves as everyone else, even if you've been a student for some time. If you want to attend a normal class, it's a good idea to phone the teacher beforehand and make sure she knows what precautions to take for pregnant women.
If you've been told you shouldn't start a new type of exercise when you're pregnant, don't worry - belly dance is an exception to this rule, because it's low-impact, non-jarring and the moves are natural to the body.
However there are certain moves which shouldn't be done in early pregnancy, so it's wise to stick to specialised prenatal workouts, like the ones in the DVDs below.
If you're trying to learn belly dance before you try for a baby, I can recommend Suspira's beginner bellydance DVD.
Amira - Yoga and Stretch
Amira's pregnancy bellydancing DVD is very gentle with an emphasis on stretching rather than belly dancing. I wouldn't call it a workout, and it uses only a few basic belly dance moves - but if you're feeling stiff and sore, this is a good way to relax and get comfortable again.
The video clip shows Amira herself at 5 months.
Naia - For Pregnant Belly Dancers
Naia's prenatal belly dancing DVD is for you if you have belly dance experience, because Naia assumes you already know the basic moves.
This is a gentle cardio workout and unlike Amira's DVD, it is ALL about belly dance! The workout is around 25 minutes and there's extensive information on prenatal health.
In this excerpt (below) Naia herself is in her third trimester.
Recommended for women who have already done one or two terms of belly dance.
Maha el Musa - for Belly Dancers
With Maha el Musa's "Dance of the Womb", we're moving out of the realm of workouts and on to a different plane altogether!
Maha's book is more than just exercise - it's a physical and emotional journey through pregnancy. I'm delighted she has now produced a DVD, because it's so much easier to copy routines correctly from a moving image than from a photo.
The emphasis here is not about creating a workout that avoids dangerous belly dance moves, but about using belly dance, physically and spiritually, to support and prepare the body for childbirth.
Points to Watch
If you have any of the following conditions, you shouldn't belly dance (or do any other exercise) without a doctor's permission:
- Placenta previa
- Vaginal bleeding (2nd or 3rd trimester only)
- Gestational diabetes
If you have a previous history of miscarriage, don't belly dance before 20 weeks.
Moves to Avoid
- Shimmies (save them for labor!)
- When you're getting close to term, be careful with any pelvic moves - they can stimulate labor.
And finally, some clips of pregnant belly dancers - including one of my favourite Australian bellydancers, Aradia.
All text copyright Marisa Wright. Photo by kptice
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