Belly Dance in Pregnancy Guidelines
Belly dance is generally a very safe and enjoyable way to exercise whilst pregnant, but common sense does need to be used.
- No dancing in class before 12 weeks.
- Seek the advice of a midwife about suitability.
- Dancing and pregnancy are both thirsty work, so keep well hydrated in the class.
- Exercise only to your comfort zone, which will change frequently as the pregnancy progresses. Stop if you feel any pain.
- No sharp or sudden moves, i.e. locking or popping. The relaxin in a pregnant woman's body will 'loosen' all of her ligaments which may make her more prone to injury. If pregnant women are new to the movements of belly dance they need to focus on keeping their movements soft and flowing, and within their comfort zone. Even experienced dancers can inadvertently injure themselves due to the laxity of their ligaments, so must respect their (temporary!) limits.
- No dancing if placenta previa is suspected. This is a serious condition where the placenta covers all, or part of, the cervix. When labour begins and the cervix begins to efface and dilate, there is a very high chance of haemorrhage, so great care must be taken not to stimulate dilation (for example, no shimmies).
- Shimmies mirror the instinctive movements some women make during straightforward, unmedicated birth. They are an excellent way to help strengthen contractions, as shimmying will help increase the contact of the baby's head on the cervix. For this reason, shimmies are contraindicated if there is any concern about premature labour or placenta praevia.
- Increased circulation to the abdomen and pelvis, therefore assisting in oxygenating the baby.
- Strengthening the muscles and fascia of the abdomen and pelvis, so also suitable for new mothers (after they've been checked by their midwife or doctor to make sure their stomach muscles haven't separated).
- The arm movements (snake arms) help to increase the circulation of lymph and blood in the chest, so help to relieve any breast engorgement or shoulder stiffness.
- Dancing has been an integral part of Middle Eastern culture for many generations, and belly dance is a beautiful way for pregnant women to connect to a long tradition of female wisdom and strength.
© Fiona Willis 2012
Fiona's article about belly dance for pregnancy and birth as featured by Birth Institute, November 2013
© 2016 Fiona Willis, all rights reserved