Belly dancing is a well-known means of exercise, but one usually does not picture a pregnant person belly dancing. Well, picture it! Pregnant belly dancing classes are now being offered at the Cincinnati Family Enrichment Center (CFEC).
Amanda Strong has taken belly dancing lessons since 2004 and fell in love with it so much she started to take classes on a regular basis. Sharon Said of CFEC asked Strong’s instructor to teach a pregnant belly dancing class last summer, but Strong’s instructor did not have time in her schedule to teach it. Strong was extremely interested and asked to teach it. Strong was a perfect match to teach the class, as she had a daughter six months before and had belly danced throughout the entire pregnancy. She also was certified to teach prenatal and post-partum fitness classes.
What is the difference between regular belly dancing and pregnant belly dancing? Well, at CFEC it is very similar to regular belly dancing. Strong says that one would learn the same movements and dance combinations. This class would also teach the women because it focuses on things that will help women during pregnancy, even while in labor and the post-partum period. These women will learn helpful tips that they can use while in labor. A lot of women who attend these classes are going to have unmediated labor. The tricks they will learn – the dance moves/positions – will help in labor.
Strong’s class at the CFEC helps women to learn to control their flexibility, as well as strength, of their core muscles. This will make recovery easier after birth. This class uses safe and effective exercises that the expectant mother can use while pregnant and after birth. Some of the mothers who came to class while pregnant have come after giving birth and wear their babies while belly dancing: It is a great way to bond with the baby and soothe a cranky baby, Strong says.
CFEC was interested in having pregnant belly dancing, because in history, belly dancing was part of ancient Near Eastern religious rites that prepared mothers for childbirth. It was performed during childbirth. The women from the tribe would dance beside the woman who was pregnant to "inspire her to imitate the movements with her stomach and pelvic muscles, thus facilitating delivery and reducing pain," Said says. Said was interested to help expectant mothers to prepare for labor and to make it more comfortable for them.
Strong says she believes that it is important to stay active during pregnancy, because it "helps you to carry the weight you gain during pregnancy, prepare for the physical stress of labor and delivery and makes getting into shape after your baby is born easier."