Sunday, December 14, 2008

Expecting? Move your belly!

I've always been fascinated by the ancient tradition of belly-dancing; not in its Westernized, over-sexualized version, but in its original purpose - a dance of fertility and motherhood, performed by women, in front of women, and for women. Belly-dancing has been known for a long time as an excellent form of exercise for pregnant women, as well as a useful tool in relieving pain during contractions and easing labor.

"The natural birth positions are standing, sitting and squatting because the baby's gravity can have its full effect. Through bellydancing, the pregnant woman arrives at the necessary mobility and strengthening of the pelvis, while developing the required awareness of the muscles used in the birth process."
I never took belly-dancing classes, but I've enjoyed learning a few moves. I might not be doing them as a professional belly-dancer would, but who cares, as long as I dance in the privacy of my living room? I loved it before I became pregnant, and I love it even more now - as I approach my last few weeks of pregnancy, belly-dancing feels wonderful, especially circular movements of the hips. It helps to relieve the discomfort of Braxton-Hicks contractions, and I feel a certain, pleasant "loosening" of my pelvic joints.

Also, belly-dancing music is fun, and can be easily found through sources such as YouTube. Dancing is good for the spirit and for general well-being. Even if you're not into belly-dancing, shaking that tummy for a few minutes to your favorite music can be a real mood booster.

Of course, one must always be careful. If dancing feels painful or uncomofrtable, if your doctor or midwife recommends certain limits to the type and/or duration of your daily exercise, all of this should be taken into consideration. There are certain positions you might want to avoid altogether, because of the strain on your back. Still, a healthy pregnant woman, I believe, has no reason to avoid a healthy, daily portion of dancing.
Photo: my belly, 36 weeks

28 comments:

Mrs. Shoemaker said...

Mrs. T,
I have bellydanced for many years and have enjoyed it for the reasons you mentioned (minus the pregnancy ones. I am not pregnant yet). It is beautiful dance and fun!
Mrs. Shoemaker

Civilla said...

That's one big belly! Blessings on you.

Gombojav Tribe said...

:-)

I once doula-ed for a lady who belly-danced through every contraction. I was pregnant, too. So, I danced with her. Her doctor thought it was a little nutty, but she loved it and it helped her manage her contractions so much!

Anonymous said...

Well, I have to say I would never have pegged you for a belly-dancing sort of girl. Rock on with your bad self!
Gracie

Jaime said...

WHAT?! 36 weeks already?? that time seemed to fly by!! well, probably not to you! :) Hope that little girl is in your arms soon; best wishes in your final weeks.

Little Missy Homemaker said...

I started belly dancing after all three of my children were born, I wish I had started before. I've been in classes with pregnant women and they always looked so beautiful. It is a great workout that's fun to do.

Julia said...

Wow! You're almost at the end. It seems to have gone by so quickly. Of course that's easy for me to say! :)

That's interesting about the belly dancing. I'm wasn't familiar with it being used that way. I did a lot of pregnancy yoga that was meant to help loosen the hips. It worked well for me. When gave birth my body was accustomed to the deep squat position, so it was easier for me.

Julia
www.greensummervillian.wordpress.com

TheRetroHousewife said...

Oh my goodness Anna, look at you!!! My heart just radiates love and joy for you and your little family.

Bethany Hudson said...

My friend Hulya, who is Turkish, used to do traditional belly-dancing. I can imagine it would be great during pregnancy. I loved doing movements and positions that I had learned in dance and movement classes as an actress. You never feel more present in your body than during pregnancy!
~Bethany

Lydia said...

I've taken belly dance for a while, and I love it! It makes me feel so feminine and womanly, and it really does make you more aware of your body and the way it moves.

I've chosen, through your consel, as a matter of fact, to not dance publicly. :) It takes all the pressure off and makes it so much more enjoyable!

Kim said...

I always wanted to try pregnancy belly dancing! But I didn't find a good video for it, so I chose yoga instead. Beautiful belly picture...it's happening soon! (I'm 2 weeks behind you) :) ~Kim

Deanna said...

Oh Anna,
How sweet this photo is. Such a wonderful time in your life as you get closer to seeing your precious child for the first time. The things you will learn from being a mother will be a new adventure for you!
Many years ago, I found that being active with daily chores and walking a great deal was all the exercise I wanted to do when pregnant.
Best wishes and please keep writing.
Deanna from the Kansas Flinthills.

Serena said...

Oh my, you are gorgeous! I can hardly wait to see your little one!

I've always wanted to try belly dancing. I think it would help my back and hips considerably, especially during pregnancy. A friend's mom and dad used to be (performing) belly dancers. Whenever my friend tells people that, they say, "Your DAD was a belly dancer?!!" Every time.

Leslie said...

I enjoy belly-dancing too! :) Great workout for the abs...and the music just lifts your spirits!

Mrs. Anna T said...

... Now that I'm looking at the photo, I can't believe that's MY belly. Time passed in a wink!! :o)

Cathy said...

Thank you for this post! I am a midwfife and belly dancer and teacher of prenatal belly dance. Many of the women who commented were not aware of belly dance being a birth dance, so I thank you for getting the word out!!

Interested persons can get more information at my website www.inthebellyofthegoddess.com

I am wondering where you got the quote that you used in your post?

Cathy

Mrs. Anna T said...

Cathy,

Just follow the link from the previous paragraph, and it will take you to the relevant article. :o)

Milena said...

Wow, how fun and exciting!

elena rulli said...

What a beautiful belly, Anna! You literally burst with life and joy!
Have a wonderful week!

Anonymous said...

A beautiful picture, Anna!

Anonymous said...

Your picture is beautiful!!!!! Blessings to you as you near the birth of your little one :)

-Rachelle

Neuropoet said...

What a beautiful belly, Anna!! Only a little bit longer now!

~Jenny

Homemakers Cottage said...

Hmmm. I've never belly danced. I just might have to try it... with the curtains drawn and the doors locked, of course!

Love the belly picture! Thank you for showing us your clothed tummy, by the way. A lot of preggy moms seem to think pregnancy is a good excuse to show off their naked bellies. :o]

~Kristy @ Homemakers Cottage

Jennifer K said...

Wow, great minds think alike, Mrs. T (and congratulations on your pregnancy). I've been belly dancing for over two years, and just wrote a post about it at my blog. Enjoy!

http://popcorninmybra.blogspot.com/2008/12/i-heart-belly-dancing.html

Buffy said...

I never heard this. It's funny how something that has become so tacky had very different origins. I suppose this is true of a lot of things we just write off without understanding. Thank you for clarifying.

Karen said...

I have to admit...I LOVE bellydancing! And I did try it through labor last time and it DID in fact help. :)

andrea said...

I enjoy belly dancing too! I'm probably not very good, but it is a good way to be healthy and to get stronger and more flexible. I feel very womanly when I dance. It also helps me to feel more graceful. I think we all could do with a little more gracefulness in our daily lives! :)

annie said...

Hi Mrs. T :) I've never commented, but read regularly. I think I found you first through Amy at Clothesline Alley.

I'm expecting my second child in May and am so amazed at how quickly the time is going by with this one! Also how much more difficult it is to get regular exercise in that isn't related to chasing a one year old. :) I'm SO interested in belly-dancing and I was so glad to read your post on it. I've always wanted to try it, especially during pregnancy. I couldn't find any decent youtube videos that taught prenatal bellydancing, though. It was mostly videos of pregnant mamas performing. I wondered if youtube was your main source of learning or if you learned elsewhere first. I'd love to know! :)

Many blessings to you as you near the end of this gorgeous season!