By Stephanie Larson
(click photo to watch video clip)
On October 15, 2017, 185 pregnant women in Shenzhen, China braved a typhoon to do something historic. 154,102 people watched via livestream as these pregnant women danced together in an attempt to set a Guinness World Record for the most pregnant women learning Dancing For Birth™ moves. They were guided by Sammi Ying, who became China’s first Certified Dancing For Birth™ Instructor one year ago. As she led the 185 pregnant women through the dance moves she explained how they are effective for birth preparation and even during labor. Although the typhoon caused them to fall short of the number of participants needed to set the record, the event itself was a powerful statement that pregnancy is a sacred time to celebrate and to come together in sisterhood. Dressed in red, a color signifying celebration in China, they moved their hips in a swirl of color and filled the room with the sound of 185 coin hip-scarves jingling in synchrony.
Pregnant people have few options for fitness classes that that are uniquely designed for them. When I created the class 17 years ago (drawing from my experience as a dancer, certified birth doula, childbirth educator, and mother) I envisioned a day when every pregnant person could find total birth preparation at a DFB™ class nearby. Now the class can be found on four continents! Dancing For Birth™ is a groundbreaking class because it combines three important elements of birth preparation―fitness, childbirth education, and celebration. It is held weekly, so people can begin attending during pre-conception and be part of a supportive community of other expecting families throughout pregnancy and postpartum.
Dancing For Birth™ moves are inspired by world rhythms and dance (belly dance, African dance and Latin dance) and are part of the universal language of movement, which transcends language barriers and cultural differences. The class is fun, safe and energizing for people in all stages of pregnancy and for new parents with their babies worn in slings or wraps. Dancing For Birth™ moves help to increase strength, agility, flexibility, coordination, pelvic mobility, and body awareness. Participants tap into their sensuality, and awaken their birth instincts to guide them through birth with ease and pleasure. The class is geared primarily for women, with many opportunities for partners to attend also.
What accounts for Dancing For Birth’s growing popularity and global appeal? The class resonates around the world because the Dancing For Birth™ philosophy and moves help participants build confidence in their own birth and parenting instincts and overcome their fear of giving birth. When a pregnant or new mother dances, her stress levels drop and her mood elevates. She produces the “love hormone” oxytocin as well as endorphins, the “pleasure hormones” which prime her baby to give and receive love. Signature DFB™ moves (such as “Dilation Gyration”, “Birth Goddess”, “Rock the Baby”, and “Wise Woman”) are designed to help the baby achieve an optimal fetal position during pregnancy and to rotate and descend during labor. Studies show that being active during labor shortens labor and reduces requests for pain medication.
“It was incredible!” Sammi says regarding the World Record Attempt, “The energy brought me to tears when I was doing the dancing, explaining our primal energy and instinct, I definitely felt that.” She now aspires to go to the next level of her DFB™ career by becoming a Trainer of Dancing For Birth™ Instructors so that more families in China can benefit from class. Let’s hope the next attempt to set the Guinness World Record is typhoon-free!
Stephanie Larson is a leading world expert on supporting pregnancy, birth and new parenthood through movement and instinct. She is the Founder and Master Trainer of Dancing For Birth™ global weekly pre/post natal classes. Larson calls for an end to forced lithotomy position, and a worldwide shift to primal, powerful, euphoric birth and conscious parenting. Her speaking engagements and TV appearances include DONA International, Lamaze International, CAPPA, ICAN, CIMS, ICEA, CAPPA Canada, AWHONN, CBS, NBC and FOX. She ‘danced out’ her four babies in birth center, hospital and home births.