I LOVE dancing pregnant people! They are the epitome of strength and beauty. They glow from the inside out and don’t let a little (or not so little!) baby bump get in their way of having a good time. Truth be told, I’m kind of obsessed with them! If I could make it my life’s mission to serve as a doula to ALL the dancing people in labor, I would be on cloud nine! There is something so joyful about dancing your baby into the world. Okay…you get the picture! But, just in case you haven’t, I’ve sprinkled in a few (okay…four!) of my favorite video clips of some fierce dancing beauties below! How about we start with this mama who has all the right moves?
Now, while I love the esthetics of a preggo dancing body, there are actually some fabulous benefits to keeping those hips shaking until baby is here. “Exercise helps prevent and improve a number of health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis. Research on anxiety, depression and exercise shows that the psychological and physical benefits of exercise can also help reduce anxiety and improve mood” – Mayo Clinic. Those endorphins your body releases when you’re doing something physical like dancing can also serve to block pain receptors – so it makes sense that grooving to your favorite beats not only helps keep your body loose and limber, but it can actually alleviate common pregnancy and labor discomforts such as low-back pain, round ligament pain, and abdominal discomfort by reducing constipation. Wait until you see this next dancer – filmed three days before she gave birth!
Getting and keeping your hips open so that your babe can get into the most optimal position for labor and birth can greatly reduce the chances of your birth requiring interventions such as an episiotomy, instrumental delivery (forceps or vacuum), or cesarean section. One exercise that can be done on a birthing ball can also be simulated while dancing: “Sitting on an exercise/yoga/birth ball often feels wonderful in labor. It allows you to maintain an upright position while giving your legs a rest. To stay active while on the ball, open your legs wide (for stability and to open your pelvis) and do hip circles, alternating to the left and right. For a similar effect, you can also do pelvic tilts, rocking forward and back” – Giving Birth With Confidence: a Lamaze Blog.
Those pregnant warriors – like Mama Tootsie Roll above – who can be found dancing during their labor understand how movement alleviates discomfort. While it just feels so much better to be moving around when baby is coming, what they’re really doing is further reducing their chances of interventions:
“Moving in labor helps women cope with strong and painful contractions while gently moving the baby into the pelvis and through the birth canal. The pain of contractions can be a guide to the laboring woman as she moves in response to what she feels, trying to find comfort as the contractions become increasingly strong. Finding comfort in a variety of ways, including movement, helps labor progress. When women are able to cope with increasingly strong contractions, increasing amounts of oxytocin are released, and this keeps labor progressing. Movement in response to pain also protects the baby and the birth canal, especially during pushing. Research supports that walking, movement, and changing positions may shorten labor, are effective forms of pain relief, and are associated with fewer nonreassuring fetal heart rate patterns, fewer perineal injuries, and less blood loss. Walking during the first stage of labor decreases the likelihood of cesarean surgery and forceps and vacuum extraction deliveries (Storton, 2007)” – The Journal of Perinatal Education.
I mean…she is really going for it! You don’t have to have all the moves down like the above dancers. Just pump up the volume and grab a dance partner or throw a dance party for one, but remember to check in with your care provider and listen to your body while you’re gettin’ down – relaxin, the hormone that helps your muscles and ligaments relax and make room for baby, can fool you into thinking that you’re more flexible than you really are. If you start to feel discomfort, ease off and take a break. Don’t forget to have fun! (And, if you’re so inclined, record yourself bustin’ a move so the whole world can see your strength, beauty, and fly moves as you get ready for baby’s debut – oh, and don’t forget to send me a link!)