Dance and Deliver

08 Sep 2016
POSTED BY Y Magazine

Pregnant mothers can dance their way to a healthy delivery, say Frincy Francis and Sheeba Elizabeth John.

Imagine if the last time you danced was at your friend’s birthday party, and you haven’t done so since seeing the positive sign in the pregnancy kit. Here is some good news: The American College of Obstetricians says you can do 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day during pregnancy. If your obstetrician has declared you fit enough for pregnancy exercises then dance can be an enjoyable alternative to walking and yoga.

Pregnancy and the benefits of dancing

The days have gone when being pregnant meant being confined to bed rest. If you are at a low risk or at no risk for pregnancy complications, then dancing could be the way to go, with benefits similar to those of any other moderate exercises. Here are some of the benefits of dancing:

  • Swaying to your favourite music is a very good stress-buster.
  • It helps you to relax and also calms down your baby.
  • If you dream of a flexible body during pregnancy, dancing fulfills it.
  • It helps to improve blood circulation and helps to provide a healthy heart and lungs.
  • If aiming for toned muscles then dancing is a good option.
  • It gives you relief from minor pregnancy-related discomfort and helps in maintaining normal alignment.
  • It improves your stamina before, during and after labour.
  • It may help to reduce the need for unnecessary medical intervention during labour and birth as it increases the required muscle strength to pass through labour.
  • It can be fun and more sociable, especially if you are bored of your gym training and regular pregnancy exercises.

Is dancing safe during pregnancy?

Any form of exercise is unsafe if it is overdone. Remember the following guidelines before you start:

  • Ask your body

There is no one better than you who can understand the changes happening to your body. So it is better to pay attention to how you feel about doing a dance and how confident you are to make the moves because the growing baby may affect your centre of gravity.

  • Know the warning signs

Your passion for dancing may result in overdoing it, which is not safe for your pregnancy. If you feel exhausted or drowsy after a few moves, it is better to stop doing them. This may occur because the heart rate during pregnancy would be on the rise because of the increased volume of blood. Therefore, it may take 15 – 20 minutes for you to settle into a resting phase. Other warning signs include vaginal bleeding or leakage, shortness of breath, uterine contractions, pains in the calf muscles and headaches.

  • Take lighter steps

Avoid doing dance moves that have jerky movements, backbends and big hip movements as these will add unwanted stress on joints and also have contain a high risk for falls and injuries. Always keep in mind that the body’s centre of gravity shifts as the tummy gets bigger so going for light, swaying music and stepping side-to-side should be more beneficial.

  • Prepare the dance room

Before you start the dancing session, ensure that the room you choose is well-lit and ventilated with a firm surface, perhaps with grip tiles or anti-fall flooring. Put a comfortable chair out for you to sit on and relax if you get tired. Have fluids handy to hydrate you.

  • Warm up yourself

Warming up the body to avoid strains to your ligaments and joints is essential before the dance therapy.

  • Choose a trainer

If you have been dancing previously, just go ahead but with modifications to the intensity of dance movements to ensure safety. However, if you are a beginner, you should choose a trainer close to your locality who could help you.

  • Seek medical advice

You should consult your obstetrician to be aware of the medical side of your course of pregnancy and seek advice before you begin any exercises.

  • Believe it or not: belly dancing is best

Centuries ago, this ancient form of dance with its slow, rolling movements were practised by pregnant women across the globe, especially in places such as Egypt, Hawaii, Morocco, New Zealand and India. The circular movements help in childbirth. It might seem impossible to do a belly dance but when you weigh up the benefits, you may feel like giving a try.

Childbirth professionals recommend this dance not only during pregnancy but also during labour. The music can have a hypnotic effect and release stress, too. Other benefits of belly dancing include:

  • Strengthen the pelvic and abdominal muscles, which aid in the delivery process.
  • Relax the mind and body.
  • Bring the baby into the forward-lying position, which is best for labour and birth.
  • Improve self-confidence and body image.
  • Help maintain good posture.
  • Prevent remote complications such as uterine prolapse.

Frincy Frincy Francis and Sheeba Elizabeth John are lecturers at the Department of Maternal & Child Health College of Nursing at Sultan Qaboos University

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