Is it OK to dance when you’re pregnant? I’m asked this question so many times and my answer is the same. “Yes….and you need to check two things first!”
1. You need to heed your doctor’s and your midwife’s advice about the correct form and level of exercise that you undertake.
2. Listen to your body (and your baby!).
I’m not a medical professional, yet I’ll help you to enjoy your Belly Bolly dance while you’re pregnant and after your baby has arrived.
Sarah, pictured while pregnant, doing a stick dance on the battlements of St Michael’s Mount castle, danced well into four pregnancies. She is convinced that she benefitted hugely from dancing when pregnant and had easy births! Nowadays many women do Belly Bolly dance while pregnant. The dance offers a gentle form of exercise, helping posture and using core strength. Historically, dance moves like pelvic circles, hip circles, tucks and figures of 8 have prepared muscles for labour. Traditionally, anecdotally, Arabic and North African women dance around the mother giving birth, to encourage these empowering circular moves.
As your body changes throughout pregnancy, it has to work harder. Yet you want to maintain your fitness level and flexibility as much as possible. Increasing weight, stretched stomach muscles, backache and tired knees will limit you. So you need to watch carefully how much dancing you do when pregnant to avoid straining anything! How you feel will vary at different stages of your pregnancy, so go with the flow and listen to your body. Dance at the level you’re used to. Stay slow and be gentle on yourself. Stop to rest as soon as you feel tired, physically or mentally.
If you’re just starting Belly Bolly dance while pregnant, the same advice applies. This way, you’ll keep your muscles strong and toned, giving yourself maximum benefit with no strain. You’ll find that other women in class who have had babies will be very supportive as well and this is reassuring. Jay, pictured right, danced happily with her hip-belt adjusted to accommodate baby bump!
Then, when you’ve had your baby, you can use Belly Bolly dance to help to regain flexibility, strength and stamina. Check with your doctor or midwife first!
Here, Jay dances with 11 day old Ella. Start slowly, when you feel properly energised. Don’t overdo it! Your body has been working very hard while pregnant and then nurturing your baby. It may take some time to regain your previous level of dance or to start from scratch as a new dancer. You’ll get there, though! Again, the company of other women who’ve had babies will be very comforting. They’re bound to share lots of handy hints about coping as a mum!