In my journey through pregnancy, I’m on the last leg. With birth a mere three weeks away, I’ve been preparing with research and classes, trying to find that elusive solution to the fear and pain of springing my offspring. When I heard of Zoe Weston’s class “Prenatal Belly Dance,” I thought it would be more about fitness than childbirth preparation. So I headed to her lesson in anticipation of a good workout and an opportunity to dance and shake my hips—something that’s been impossible with such a big belly.
I’ve always enjoyed dancing. And I’ve also known shaking my moneymaker was going to get me in a world of trouble—nine months of trouble, that is. My daughter was conceived over a fun night of dancing and music. Dance has been an expression of sensual seduction since prehistoric times. But from Weston’s class, I also learned dance can be a pathway to natural, painless childbirth.
Weston is a petite girl, married with no kids. But she is a tireless researcher and supporter of pregnancy and birthing, offering prenatal yoga, HypnoBirthing lessons and her services as a doula. She began her work on the topic over 10 years ago in preparation of starting her own family, along with anthropology studies and dance practice.
In her belly dance class I learned that as I practiced these moves, I was actually preparing myself for a more relaxed and pain-free birth. Belly dance is an ancient form of childbirth preparation, strengthening muscles in the belly and legs that come in handy during labor.
During a recent class, music filled my ears as we practiced six main moves, hip circles, figure eights, undulations, rib cage isolations, hip hits and pelvic circles. It was cool and rainy outside but I was working up a sweat without lifting my feet off the ground. In belly dance most moves are isolations, which are cleverly low-impact and pregnancy appropriate. Class lasts for about an hour, with warm up and cool down periods.
I could physically feel how these dance moves were strengthening my belly and hips. But Weston reminded me that dance and music also help to relax your body and mind, important in easing labor.
“Pregnancy and labor is not a medical condition,” Weston said. “It is a natural function. Women have been giving birth for years without hospitals. It is the fear of the unknown, the flight or fight factor, that makes it painful.”
I left the class with a new high on birth and several new methods on easing labor, as well as a dance tip for helping induce my pregnancy should I become overdue.
“It’s never too late to began preparing,” said Weston. “I even helped a lady who came in at nine months, weeks overdue. I showed her how to do some pelvic circles, which can help you if you’re late. She was elated that her labor began after practicing some at home.”
While I’m hoping for an early, painless and quick labor, others might be interested in taking classes from Weston for their prenatal preparations. You will find her at www.zoeweston.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone for her latest class schedule at 808-387-1980. MTW