Belly dancing during pregnancy – Mother Earth News

“That’s birth, it’s improvisation.” —Jamie Rose Lyle


Photo by Adobe Stock/sdubrov

Three weeks before the due date of her first child, Jamie Rose Lyle’s waters broke and slow contractions began. She didn’t worry about anything. “I knew I didn’t need medical interventions, I needed to give my body time.” she says. She spent her time working and listening to music. “Reggae was what I grooved to.” said Jamie, “that ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Alright’ song was playing when my water broke.”

After 24 hours of homework, Jamie was one centimeter dilated. She went to the hospital and received antibiotics and pitocin for the next five hours, then spinal anesthesia. “At the time we had medical intervention, it was welcome.” says Jamie. Finally, 44 hours after her membranes ruptured and half an hour of pushing, Jamie released her baby boy.

Fast forward nine months and Jamie has taken up belly dancing. While she had experience with ballet, modern dance and ballroom dancing, she had fallen in love with an improvisational style of belly dancing and even earned a spot in a local troupe. When Carol Vance, the director of the troupe called to invite Jamie to dance with them, Jamie let Carol know that she and her husband had just started trying to get pregnant again.

“Fabulous!” was Carol’s response. “Right from the start,” Jamie said, “I found support for dancing while pregnant.”

With the challenges that often come with first trimester pregnancy, I asked Jamie if she wanted to stop dancing during this time. “No, I didn’t want to quit, not at all,” she said, “When I was dancing, I felt good.” So, for three and a half hours every Tuesday evening, Jamie dances with her troupe and is relieved of her nausea and exhaustion.

Jamie likes that the troop is made up of four generations of women, most of whom have given birth themselves. She said she loved “being with all those wombs that had babies.” She also acknowledges that belly dancing has its roots in childbirth and she often thinks of how other mothers, both current and through the ages, join her in her experience, “right now. and over time,” she said, referring to midnight pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding.

Jamie also feels stronger and more comfortable with belly dancing. Throughout our conversation, she listed the sensations her body felt as a result of the dance; “I really feel like dancing helps me feel strong, my abdominal muscles are supporting my stomach, I literally feel like my back is so supported, I can walk more comfortably and all because of belly dancing, my hips aren’t tight, if I could just keep my muscles working, I feel really good, that’s the kind of movement my body needs right now.

And according to Jamie, she can do things with her body that she couldn’t when she was first pregnant. For example, she can now get into the traditional birth squat, “and I definitely wasn’t doing belly rolls when I was pregnant with (Jackson),” she said. Out of a vocabulary of 300 dance moves, Jamie said there were only two that weren’t comfortable, “just knowing I can do those positions really helps my confidence.”

Finally, unlike her first job, where Jamie said she knew she had to try hard to relax, her focus isn’t on trying so hard this time around. She expects the improvisational nature of belly dancing to be one of the best preparations for childbirth and that it will help her. “Before, when I danced, it was always choreographed, but belly dancing is a style of improvisation that will be a big help from birth.” She said all of her belly dancing performances took place while she was pregnant and she had to decide which moves to do in real time. Much like dancing, she said, “I just have to trust my body and not overthink and let myself go. That’s birth, it’s improvisation.


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