Belly Dancing for Mothers-to-Be


Ever considered belly dancing to ease pregnancy?

Middle Easten women have been belly dancing during pregnancy and labor for years. In fact,  that's how belly dance started said Emily McKeon,34, who tried belly dancing when she was pregnant a year ago.

“Birth is not only physical but sensual. If the woman that’s giving birth can maintain a sense of her body and just find ways to feel sensual during labor, her body is going to be looser and more free to give easy passage to the baby,” she said.

Experts recommend slow movements, hip rotations and figure eights for pregnant women.

“They’re very intuitive movements even for someone who doesn’t dance. During labor those movements just feel right," said McKeon. “It felt that my body was moving around my baby. Just this soft cocoon. The movements were so gentle -- we were dancing together. It felt very nurturing.”

After trying other belly dance programs that did not work for her, McKeon saw Bellydancebirth on YouTube and then ordered CDs from Australia.

Her back pain, which she had since the first trimester, disappeared after two days of practicing Bellydancebirth. 

“There’s such a need for techniques for labor specifically that sort of connect us again to our bodies and really to a lineage of birthing women," she said.

“It’s traditional movements that are passed from Middle Eastern cultures passed from women to women, movement that loosen the birthing muscles and help align the baby in birth control and give the birthing woman a very physical tool to cope with pain and any overwhelming experiences during labor,” said McKeon.

Doctors say belly dancing benefits include relieveing back pain, relaxing the body and improving posture.

“It also prepares the pelvic area and targeted birthing muscles for the birth experience,” said McKeon.

Maha Al Musa, who was born in Kuwait and moved to Australia in the 1960s, created Bellydancebirth . 

When Maha was pregnant with her first child in 1996, she turned to her cultural roots and began belly dancing.

Six months later, she started Bellydancebirth – endorsed by the Australian National Association of Childbirth Educators and the Australian Doula College – to help other pregnant women.

Just as Maha brought Bellydancebirth to Australia almost 50 years ago, last month McKeon made the distribution of Maha al Musa's DVD set "Belly Dance for Pregnancy of Birth" available in the U.S.

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