Belly dancing during Pregnancy and Childbirth

In its martriarchical beginnings belly dancing was a ritual and birth dance, a dance by women for women. With its movements in harmony with the woman’s body feminity and divinity were danced and honoured. In those times the woman became goddess through her capacity to give birth. The maternal goddesses from Catal Hüyük in Anatolia, Turkey, sat on the throne which simultaneously served as a birth chair. The Egyptian hieroglyphes for childbirth show the pharaonic queen on the birth stool in an upright and proud position favourable to incite labour.

The belly dance movements dating from ancient times still have their beneficial effect – both during pregnancy and the birth process. During pregnancy they can mobilize the pelvis, strengthen the pelvic floor, stimulate blood circulation thus improving breathing capacity, release tension and relieve or prevent backache and ischialgia.

Emotionally, belly dancing facilitates the contact between the mother-to-be and the unborn child, e.g. by calming the baby down through the harmonious, meditative hip circle. The pelvis thus assumes the function of the baby’s first cradle. While dancing the mother experiences herself as beautiful and female.

Mentally, pregnant women who practise belly dancing do not care about other women’s frightening stories, accept their pregnancy joyfully and usually opt for vertical birthing. These women will not accept the Cesarian section which is currently being praised as the soft childbirth method; they feel strong enough to have a natural birth where belly dancing can be helpful, too.

The movements I have chosen and tested during birth processes strongly incite labour and soothe pains. They encourage and accelerate expulsion in a vertical position. The woman is active: to give birth and not to be delivered is her aim.

I am fortunate to be able to accompagny women through their pregnancy and to witness how belly dancing gives them power, pride and dignity.