One of my happiest memories as a child was dancing on a Persian carpet spread out on the lounge room floor in our family house.

The freedom I felt as I swayed and moved to rhythmic music gave me immense joy and I somehow knew, even as a child, that dance was a valuable part of me. Without knowing it, I was already preparing myself for the journey of pregnancy and birth.

And so it was when I became pregnant with my first child I received powerful revelations that inspired me to immerse myself in my cultural dance which was coined belly dance in the West. I regularly practiced this ancient dance throughout my pregnancy journey finding the inner dance that called me to listen – listen to my body rhythm and trust – trust in my joy – just like when I was a child.

In 1997 when my first son, Kailash, was just six months old, I began teaching BellydanceBirth® classes for pregnant mothers. I passed on the knowledge and wisdom I had gathered from my cultural roots as well as what I had intuited from the movements expressed throughout my own pregnancy and birth experience – movements that had opened me to embrace my whole birth experience with a fearless embodiment. I loved teaching these classes and found it such a beautiful experience to have with pregnant moms as we all danced in the Universal circle of family connectedness.

During my next pregnancy with my second son Tariq, I continued the BellydanceBirth® dance practice allowing the movement to even more deeply connect me to my body, heart, womb, and baby. And now, 24 years on, I continue to share the benefits of belly dance for birth with women all over the world.

I want to share a few of those benefits with you all, so you too will be inspired to join a multitude of women who have and will practice BellydanceBirth® as a powerful yet gentle means to prepare for their upcoming birth.

~BellydanceBirth® is a gentle, self-sourced prenatal exercise~

In our modern world, we find we are becoming more sedentary and I believe, this leads to physical and energetic stagnation, that can contribute to a lost connection with our bodies. We don’t till the earth, prepare the fires, or carry our babies on our backs as our ancestors have done and we rarely open our bodies to their full capabilities every day. 

But exercise during pregnancy is extremely important for you and your baby’s health. It has been found to have a great number of health benefits and (to name a few) it can relieve stress, decrease pregnancy complications, aid in ample blood flow throughout your body, open energy fields, and build up the stamina needed for childbirth. Doctors recommend low-impact exercise as perfect for pregnancy.

I advocate for BellydanceBirth® as a prenatal exercise for pregnant women because it’s not only a perfect, non-strenuous practice that fulfills your body’s need for moderate movement but it is also a primal exercise that brings attention to your womb space, pelvis, and your baby. 

BellydanceBirth® when danced with a slower pace settles your nervous system and allows for your abdominal muscles and pelvic floor muscles to be beautifully toned. In a way, the dance movements mirror birth’s contractions (or as I like to say expansions), so practicing the movements of this birth dance makes so much sense as a labour preparation. It also has many other physical advantages. When practiced often during pregnancy, belly dancing:

  • increases muscle tone, circulation, and flexibility.
  • strengthens pelvic floor muscles
  • reduces any tension or anxiety
  • maintains good posture and reduces lower back pain
  • helps maintain a healthy weight

If you feel that walking or aerobics classes during your pregnancy have become dull and are in search of an exercise that connects you to your body and baby, I invite you to give belly dancing a try. 

~BellydanceBirth® supports you to embrace the changes in your body throughout the prenatal period~

Pregnancy can be a state of raw emotion. Besides joyful feelings, it may elicit a sense of loss, confusion, fear of the unknown as you navigate uncertainties or hesitation to fully embrace the changes in your body. Be reassured that when you begin to dance the gentle dances of BellydanceBirth® spaces will open up for you to guide moving through any of these raw emotions that may arise.

You might feel tightness or bodily constrictions when you first begin to explore BellydanceBirth® but as you practice, the movement will bring awareness with a more focused connection with all aspects of your changing body. It will also deeply connect you with your pelvic basin affirming it as the true seat of your female power.

BellydanceBirth® may also help improve your body image and enhance self-esteem which may pose challenges for some women during pregnancy due to the physical changes and fluctuating hormones. Sensual and self-oriented dance that leads you to the roots of your inner wisdom can be a wonderful reminder when, and if, you pass through difficult places.

If you continue to practice this dance you can peel back the layers of your subconscious and societal influences and conditioning to discover many freedoms. These freedoms can support the emotional and physiological changes throughout your pregnancy to provide a strong foundation as you enter motherhood.

~BellydanceBirth® is a supportive modality in labour and childbirth~      

I believe our modern society conditions many mothers to be reliant on the medical system to do the work of childbirth. We think that birth preparation will be taken care of by another. But birth dancing, as a means to prepare for your labour, reminds you that your strength lies in claiming that you and your baby are at the centre of your experience.

This innate exercise is always available as a confidence booster as it awakens your womb wisdom. In this awakening, you will be able to meet your birth rhythms and fully welcome your body sensations with your baby by changing positions and listening to your body cues. No medical doctor or expert can give you this. BellydanceBirth® holds the keys to your unique labour.

BellydanceBirth® allows you to experience labor with openness rather than in a constricted manner as it assists nature by moving with your expansions, not against them. The movements are most conductive during the first stage of labour as your cervix relaxes, dilates, and pulls up to build your fundus (top of the uterus). For example, the soothing rocking and stretching motions of the pelvic figure-eight enables you to release and flow more easily with your natural rhythms using breath, and sounds. This will create room in the pelvis so your baby can find optimal positions as well as space for the baby’s head or bag of water to be massaged down onto your cervix aiding in its opening.


All pregnant mothers can experience the beauty of BellydanceBirth® for birth preparation that pledges total trust in their body, mind, heart, and spirit and with these benefits I’ve shared with you, I invite you to try this transformative dance style knowing that there is always a dance within waiting to be felt. I suggest that you begin around 14 weeks then all through your pregnancy and of course, as I have shared, through the whole labour.

Always remember that the dance of life both grows your precious baby and supports you to discover the jewels that lie in the corners and crevices of your body. Listen to the whisper of your intuitive guidance and soften into the call of your womb wisdom for in this place you will find both courage and peace.

 

Always dance from your heart!

Mamaste,

Maha

 

If you would like to have a deeper knowledge and understanding of the benefits of BellydanceBirth® as a prenatal exercise and birthing tool, I invite you to read my award-winning book Dance of the Womb – The Essential Guide to Belly Dance for Pregnancy and Birth.

I have also included my method of BellydanceBirth® in all six dance chapters in module 4 of my powerful EmbodyBirth online birth preparation program. You may sign up for the course HERE to reap the benefits of dance in your pregnancy and birthing journey.