Bellydance has a history of preparing women for labour and assisting in the smooth and natural process of giving birth. Traditionally, in some cultures, it would involve a group of women dancing around the mother during labour and the mother standing (not lying on her back) while giving birth. However, even for western methods of childbirth we can still use bellydancing to prepare and strengthen the body.
Camels (or belly rolls) involve a downward undulating motion of the stomach muscles which is an important movement during labour to encourage the baby out of the womb. In fact, a nurse said she witnessed spontaneous movements like this in women during the second phase of labour. Practicing camels will strengthen these muscles.
Pelvic Tucks and Hip Rotations strengthen and stretch the pelvic and abdominal muscles which are definitely used in childbirth. These movements can also be utilised during labour for opening up and connecting with the body’s natural rhythms.
A regular bellydance practice will train your body in muscle isolations. This technique is helpful for giving birth because the mother will be better equipped to focus on using only the muscles needed for delivering the baby while remaining relaxed throughout the rest of the body.
The movements that you should avoid during pregnancy are Hip Lifts and Drops, Pelvic Tucks, Shimmies, and any sharp twists. If you are not pregnant, go for it! Try all of them and your muscles will strengthen over time. If you are pregnant, stick to slow, undulating Camels and rotations like Figure of 8s, Hip Circles, Omis and Mayas. It’s never too late during pregnancy to use these delicate moves for strengthening.
Additionally, bellydancing stimlulates the baby and nurtures optimal position of the baby in the uterus. A little music along with your dancing is sure to calm and relax the baby as well!
About the author: Michelle is a dancer, choreographer and dance + lifestyle blogger, currently living in London. After years of dance experience and training including Ballet, Hip Hop and African dance, Michelle found herself in awe of the oriental art of Bellydance. She explores elements of traditional and fusion Bellydance and uses it to compliment an array of music and dance styles, thus creating Urban Drift Bellydance. Michelle is also a passionate yogi, she maintains a regular practice to support her dancing.