Belly dance was created by women, for women, to help prepare them for pregnancy and birth. Women have danced during their actual labors to ease and quicken the birthing process. There is evidence in cave paintings of this practice dating back 30,000 years! The technique has been passed down for all this time because it is so effective in empowering women through the birth journey. I encourage women to make dance a part of their birth plan. A woman can begin Birth Dancing at any point, even before conception. During pregnancy, I suggest beginning as early as possible for maximum benefits and so that the body can remember the movements and access them easily during labor.
For conception, this form of dancing helps women to release physical and energetic blockages to assist in creating a new life, to attune women to their bodies so that they are more aware of their most fertile times and to strengthen the muscles used to assist in conception.
During pregnancy, the movements help to tone the muscles that are changing to accommodate a growing baby and to prepare the core muscles that will be used during contractions. The fundamental posture and fluidity of the movements help greatly to reduce pain in the lower back and hips. The hip movements, swaying and circling, create space for the baby to grow and get into optimum position. The mother can also practice the meditative, trance space that will help her facilitate an easier labor.
During labor, circling hips, figure 8’s and other movements help the baby move into a good birthing position and help the mother to open her passageway. The rhythmic undulations help to bring on contractions and allow the mother to move with her contractions instead of against them. Dancing these ancient movements assist the mother greatly in entering her primal mind ~ tuning out fears and distractions ~ and empowering her to be a very active part of the birth. Dancing during labor quickens and eases the entire process, regardless of how a woman gives birth (women can dance in birthing tubs, hopsitals, move their hips in bed and even after epidurals!)
For post-partum recovery, the movements help the mother to re-weave her muscles together again, tone her uterus and birth canal, strengthen muscles used in carrying her baby, create relaxation for better breastfeeding and give the mother time for quiet meditation. Mothers can also wear their newborns wrapped to them, sway together and snuggle. The rhythms of the movements help the babies to relax and absorb the joys of their new bodies.