Why pre-natal belly dancing just makes sense

Two conversations I had recently made me think that even though belly dancing sounds intimidating and not-my-thing, I might do it if I were pregnant again.

Sitting is the new smoking

My friend Kelsey, a life coach and acupuncturist, said “Sitting is the new smoking” during a marathon road trip discussion we had about careers, childbirth, relationships, and parenting. “You’re going to hear that more and more,” she said.

And she was right. Within a couple weeks, I saw this article, Be A Writer That Moves Be A Mover Who Writes, acknowledging that humans in the past did not sit in one position for hours each day, and the impact this has on our body should be considered, especially for those of us who spend a lot of time at computers.

Rise in sitting, rise in C-sections

Part II of my interest in prenatal belly dancing as a good idea came when a Bay Area baby resource center called Then Comes Baby announced their new class series From The Hips, with a message that explained, “With most of us sitting at desk jobs and clacking away on the computer or smart phones, our bodies aren’t getting that hip and belly movement needed during pregnancy and birth to help babies move into position, helping labor progress at a more steady pace. This leads to things like posterior babies (ouchie), ‘failure to progress’, and increased use of labor augmentation, pain meds earlier than hoped for (if at all), and C-section.”

Not a new thing, but a totally old-fashioned thing

I asked Sabrina Freidenfelds, the founder of Then Comes Baby in Oakland, where the classes will be held, to tell me more. She said, “When people who think of Belly Dance, most think of seductive ladies dancing around men smoking hookah pipes, but it was actually a dance and movement form that dates back originally to the Red Tent — women helping other women in labor. It’s a way of moving the hips and belly to help get that baby down, move into optimal position, and help distract women from the pain of labor (pre-epidural days).”

How it works

The doula who is teaching the Oakland class describes the benefits of belly dancing as:

  • Strengthen abdominal and back muscles
  • Assist with pelvic floor flexibility and stretching
  • Improve body mechanics and posture ((for optimal fetal positioning and for regaining and maintaining core strength)
  • Plus, calming relaxation, breathing, and/ or visualization techniques.

Sabrina, who at 32 weeks pregnant, is taking the class herself, says, “There are general belly dancing classes and online resources, but they definitely don’t have that vibe, the “sisterhood” thing that we have going on. Most of us have two left feet and are just laughing our way through it, but there is also some serious instruction going on too, and sections of the class that are really thinking about birth prep and postpartum recovery.”

“That’s the potent part, when it goes from a bunch a women having fun, making our belly dance belts shimmy, and then then we realize “Wait! This is actually helping us prepare and recover from this crazy ‘having a baby’ thing!”

How to get started

No prenatal belly dancing class in your area? First, feel free to take a regular belly dancing class. You’ll be the cutest lady there when you shake your big belly around. Second, consider a video you can try in the privacy of your own home.

photos courtesy Then Comes Baby in Oakland

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