Belly Dancing for Pregnancy
Belly dance can be a wonderful 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 much more quickly after the birth.
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 because belly dance moves are so focussed in the pelvic area, you shouldn't expect to do the exactly the same moves as everyone else, even if you've been a student for some time.
There are some belly dance moves, including shimmies, that you must not do during pregnancy as they stimulate labor. Many belly dance teachers are unaware of the risks, so you need to educate yourself!
One way to ensure you're practising belly dance safely is to use one of the DVD's designed especially for pregnant women. I've chosen three which will appeal to different women depending on what your needs are.
If you've never belly danced before, I would recommend Amira's workout as a safe and gentle introduction. However if you're an existing student you'll be bored, and you'll find Naia's workout a better option to keep your belly dance skills honed during your pregnancy.
Maha el Musa's book and DVD are suitable for dancers and non-dancers alike, but it is more than just a workout and it's more spiritual approach may not appeal to everyone.
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
The next DVD is for women who already have belly dance experience, because the instructor, Naia, assumes you already know the basic moves.
It's a gentle cardio workout and unlike Amira's DVD, it's ALL about belly dance! The workout is around 25 mniutes and there's extensive information on prenatal health.
In the video below, Naia herself is dancing in her third trimester.
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.