Kate Swanson is an Australian writer and dancer with nearly 40 years' experience in ballet, jazz, flamenco, ballroom, Latin and bellydance.
Belly dance can be a wonderful preparation for childbirth, because it strengthens the pelvic and deep abdominal muscles, giving you better support for the baby during pregnancy and an easier labor. Stronger abdominal muscles also means your tummy will regain its tone much more quickly after the birth.
If you've been told you shouldn't start a new type of exercise when you're pregnant, don't worry - belly dance is an exception to this rule, because it's low-impact, non-jarring and the moves are natural to the body.
However because belly dance moves are so focussed in the pelvic area, you shouldn't expect to do the exactly the same moves as everyone else, even if you've been a student for some time.
There are some belly dance moves, including shimmies, that you must not do during pregnancy as they stimulate labor. Many belly dance teachers are unaware of the risks, so you need to educate yourself!
One way to ensure you're practising belly dance safely is to use one of the DVD's designed especially for pregnant women. I've chosen three which will appeal to different women depending on what your needs are.
If you've never belly danced before, I would recommend Amira's workout as a safe and gentle introduction. However if you're an existing student you'll be bored, and you'll find Naia's workout a better option to keep your belly dance skills honed during your pregnancy.
Maha el Musa's book and DVD are suitable for dancers and non-dancers alike, but it is more than just a workout and it's more spiritual approach may not appeal to everyone.
Amira - Yoga and Stretch
Naia - For Pregnant Belly Dancers
The next DVD is for women who already have belly dance experience, because the instructor, Naia, assumes you already know the basic moves.
It's a gentle cardio workout and unlike Amira's DVD, it's ALL about belly dance! The workout is around 25 mniutes and there's extensive information on prenatal health.
Maha el Musa - for Belly Dancers
With Maha el Musa's "Dance of the Womb", we're moving out of the realm of workouts and on to a different plane altogether!
Maha's book is more than just exercise - it's a physical and emotional journey through pregnancy. I'm delighted she has now produced a DVD, because it's so much easier to copy routines correctly from a moving image than from a photo.
The emphasis here is not about creating a workout that avoids dangerous belly dance moves, but about using belly dance, physically and spiritually, to support and prepare the body for childbirth.
Points to Watch
If you have any of the following conditions, you shouldn't belly dance (or do any other exercise) without a doctor's permission:
- Placenta previa
- Vaginal bleeding (2nd or 3rd trimester only)
- Gestational diabetes
If you have a previous history of miscarriage, don't belly dance before 20 weeks.
Moves to Avoid
- Shimmies (save them for labor!)
- When you're getting close to term, be careful with any pelvic moves - they can stimulate labor.
And finally, some clips of pregnant belly dancers - including one of my favourite Australian bellydancers, Aradia.
- Pregnancy, prenatal bellydance and belly dancing.
Pregnancy, prenatal bellydance and belly dancing. Birth, abdominal and movelement
- Dancing During Pregnancy
peachy from Home Sweet Home on March 08, 2015:
wow, but i think after 6 months, moms shouldn't do this, pretty risky
Classic Residency on August 13, 2012:
Too good. This is the first time I am reading about pregnant belly dancers. I liked it
TattoGuy on March 31, 2010:
Yeah I know what you mean I am currently firing a tattoo website onto the first page of google and yahoo but my next project is a Forum to beat all Forums, I did it before but lost interest but now thanks to here I have learnt so much, anyway good luck with yer websites !
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on March 31, 2010:
You're right Art - I have done about a dozen recently, which is good for me. What you don't see is I'm trying to get my websites fired up, seems I could be making more with them too.
TattoGuy on March 31, 2010:
Jeeez why am I reading about pregnant belly dancers, even worse is why am I finding it erotic, I really worry about me, I really do. Nice hub Marissa and tis about time ya got yer ass into gear and starting firing out hubs again, I know for a fact ya cud be doubling yer adsense so come on girl x
Iðunn on March 26, 2010:
nice. :) so there is hope.
I don't have the kind of money for real lessons but maybe I can pick up some books or vids. possibly youtube might have, geeze, they have everything.
I was trying to learn something called jumpstyle off it, not doing too bad with that, and also c-walk, but on that one, I'm too lazy to put the time in and it's complicated. It might be beyond my coordination level.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on March 26, 2010:
Yes Iðunn, most doctors will tell you not to take up any new forms of exercise when you're pregnant. They know nothing about belly dance and don't realise it's the exception.
And you're certainly not too old to start again now - I started at 50! The oldest student I've met is in her mid-70's and still flaunting it in red sequins.
Iðunn on March 26, 2010:
I wish I had had your advice on the healthiness of belly dancing when I was pregnant the first time. I had been married a little over a year and was just starting to take belly dancing classes and found out I was finally pregnant (had given up).
My doctor told me not to take it up new at that time. I never did get back to it and I'm sorry that I didn't. It was really fun and the costumes are to die for.
I wonder if I am too old to start now, for exercise.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on March 25, 2010:
Hope she likes it Sunforged! It's good for the birth too - one of my belly dance teacher friends delivered recently and she choreographed an entire routine during labor...
sunforged from Sunforged.com on March 25, 2010:
Great timing, im carrying the laptop to my fiancé at this moment. She is 26 weeks right now, pre-natal yoga didn't really interest her, this should be more her style.
Rafini from Somewhere I can't get away from on March 23, 2010:
This would have been good information to know when a friend of mine went 3 1/2 weeks overdue! I'll be sure to mention it to her, if there's a next time. :)
blondepoet from australia on March 22, 2010:
I have always wanted to take this up. I think belly-dancing is amazing and the costumes are even more amazing.
Sandy Mertens from Wisconsin, USA on March 22, 2010:
Amazing being able to belly dance while pregnant.
msorensson on March 22, 2010:
Wow..amazing..thank you for this hub. I love it.