Personally, I didn’t doubt I would continue to dance while pregnant. I had already been dancing for six years and it had become a part of who I was. That aside, I was CONVINCED that by continuing to dance I could make my labor easier. That baby was just going to slide right on out, no drugs or anything! Just the good old 1-2-3 push, bam, it’s out. Okay, I wasn’t THAT naïve, but a girl can dream. I had heard some people say that dancing had helped their labor, but for me that did not end up being the case (but that is a story for another day).
Prior to getting pregnant, I was dancing regularly with Bahar, doing the occasional solo, and taking classes. Once I became pregnant, I worried about overdoing it. I have a tendency to take on too much and so I made a pact with myself to only do one show per month. This was a personal choice and I encourage you, especially if you are pregnant, to listen to yourself and your body to know what is right for you.
I was taking classes with the amazing Dahlia and I don’t think I missed a single class in eight months. There were times when I would have to sit down because of exhaustion but I was still there. I was determined to keep my well-trained muscles trained during this pregnancy. I didn’t want to lose years of work just because I was pregnant! I might not have been able to do a pelvic drop at the time but you can bet I could still do belly undulations. I loved taking Dahlia’s class because she had danced during both of her pregnancies. She was able to instruct me on moves that would be good for my body, and when to be gentler with others. Especially during the third trimester when your body releases relaxin that loosens the ligaments in your pelvis (and other areas).
During the late first trimester/early second trimester, Bahar decided to do a new drum solo. I felt powerful, that I could hit all of those beats and shimmy with my growing belly. By 31 weeks we did a sword routine where I was able to smoothly get myself on the floor for the ending pose. Being able to still dance while pregnant was amazing. Not only was I growing a new life but I also got to look bad-ass while dancing. Some people might disagree with the aesthetics of pregnant women letting it all out in their dance costumes but for me, I felt beautiful.
During my last month of pregnancy, Dahlia took a month-long break from classes. I think this was for the best as by that time my hips were starting to feel all of that extra baby weight. I had experienced very little back pain during the pregnancy, which I attributed to dancing keeping up my core strength, but by the end I was starting to feel it. Though I had more or less stopped dancing by this point, I was still attending rehearsals for Bahar. We were scheduled to dance at Medfest that summer and my due date was four days before the performance. We all thought it was best that I not be included in that dance. It’s a good thing too, because during that last rehearsal (on my due date) my water broke!
Do you have any experiences or tips you’d like to share about dancing while pregnant? Leave a comment below or post on our Facebook page.
MY TOP TAKE-AWAYS from DANCING WHILE PREGNANT
1) Listen to your body. I know that sounds cliché, but I mean it. Your body is going to be changing in ways you’ve never experienced before — Your center of gravity will shift, the way your pelvis tilts will be different, the space in your torso will decrease, and your joints are going to be loosening up. Each day you might feel something new. Do what feels right for that day and don’t worry about what you “used to be able to do.” Enjoy moving in this NEW YOU.
2) Don’t focus on dance as a means for achieving an “easy” labor. There might be a million benefits to dancing while pregnant, but if you’re only dancing because you think it will make labor easier, then you might end up feeling disappointed if the labor and delivery don’t go how you imagined.
3) Despite what some older generations might tell you, it’s good and healthy for you (and your baby) to exercise while you are pregnant. Unless your doctor or midwife suggests otherwise, there is no reason why you can’t continue to dance and exercise. Not only will it improve your physical health, it can do wonders for you mental health too.
4) Find a teacher that has experienced pregnancy (or who has studied exercise/movement for pregnancy). They will know what movements you might want to avoid and which ones might be extra helpful.
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