by Rachel Snow
“Belly dancing, for example, is just one way that certain cultures have devised over time to lower rates of fetal malpositioning during the last three months of pregnancy, or even to change a baby’s position during strong labor.” ~ Ina May Gaskin, Birth Matters
DANCE YOUR BABY INTO OPTIMAL POSITION FOR LABOR AND GIVE BIRTH EASIER!
What if I told you there was a simple way you could ensure your baby was in the optimal birthing position by the time you go into labor, and that you could also use this tool to make labor easier? What if I told you this tool could help flip a breech baby before or during the birthing process? Would you believe me if I told you this tool would also make you feel incredibly sexy in the process? Well you might have guessed it by the title, this tool is belly dance!
Many childbirth educators, midwives, and OB’s recommend belly dancing as a prenatal form of exercise. In my opinion, it is the perfect prenatal form of exercise- low impact, high benefits for mom and baby, and perfectly readies the exact muscles needed to facilitate labor. Here are some of the benefits:
Women who dance regularly during pregnancy can expect to have shorter labors and less need for interventions, such as cesareans. (see Fun Facts for more info) Moderate exercise increases placental blood flow and oxygen to baby. Women who practice maintaining a mind-body-spirit connection during pregnancy, have an easier time tuning into their bodies needs during labor. This is one exercise that truly celebrates all shapes of the female form! Positive body image, and feeling sexy in your pregnant form, never hurt no one! The movement in belly dancing emphasize muscle lengthening and expansion (similar to yoga) which is the optimal type of prenatal workout.
These movements actually condition muscles needed for childbirth, and when utilized during labor can gently ease baby down birth canal. 1 in 5 babies begins labor in the occiput posterior position (sunny side up). This is when baby is facing the same direction as mom instead of facing towards her back. The problem with this position is the back of the baby’s head is pressing against the spine, causing what is known as back labor. Many women report the intensity of the back labor overwhelms the intensity of the actual contraction. Belly dancing in your last trimester can gently guide baby into the optimal birthing position.
Belly dancing during pregnancy isn’t a new ‘fad’- there is an amazingly rich historical significance of this dance for women. Specifically relating to fertility, pregnancy, and childbirth. It is said that midwives noticed the natural movements women made during labor, and would mimic their moves back to them in an exaggerated, dance like manner, to encourage the natural progression of labor. Women would gather around the laboring mother to be and would performing hip circles, undulations, and figure eights, encouraging her to follow along. The woman in labor would stay on her feet allowing gravity to help her as she moved through the familiar patterns that felt so natural in childbirth, periodically stopping to push gently until the baby finally eased his or her way out.
What many people don’t realize about belly dancing, is this form of dance actually evolved with birthing women, and for birthing women. It’s purpose- to facilitate labor. It is in essence, a birth dance. During pregnancy you can prepare your mind by taking childbirth education classes, and prepare your body by practicing belly dance movements. Taking Dancing For Birth™ class combines both of these aspects into one class!
If you are desiring a natural birth, the best thing you can do is arm yourself with practical techniques you can use during labor so you can take charge during your labor, instead of being pulled along like a helpless spectator. Can you envision yourself belly dancing your baby out? After all, it was invented for birth. Find out more information about my classes or if you’re not in the Boulder, Colorado area, find a class near you.