****I am not a medical professional. The information offered here is backed by trusted institutions but the overall voice of this blog piece is purely a result of my experience and observation. In other words, this is an opinion piece. If you are not currently in an exercise program cleared by a doctor, I highly recommend you consult your medical practitioner before engaging in any physical activity especially if you are pregnant****
Have you been there… that song comes on that gets you amped and you just let it go across those kitchen tiles, the sidewalk, wherever you are? Professional or not, for the life of me I cannot fathom someone who can resist the urge to at least tap it out when that song that slays your being hits your ears. Even my grandfather gets that toe a-going when music is on. Dancing holds the ability to waltz across cultures and communicate with movement. It is something that binds humans around the globe and walks hand in hand with music. Throughout history, humans have used dance and music to express, celebrate, pray, evoke, and convey. Today, we not only recognize dance as an art or ceremony but as a physical exercise that improves the health of your mind, body, and spirit. For pregnancy, dance seems to be one of the more perfect forms of exercise for you no matter your preference or ability as it can be tailor fit to suit your needs and it can plain make you smile.
I have heard commentary floating around that goes on about pregnancy being a “condition” and “intense” exercise like dance is better reserved for the postpartum period when you are cleared for strenuous activity and want to “bounce back”. On the contrary, dance classes range from being very gentle to challenging with every level in between. There is some serious research that disputes not only the condition aspect but the activity involvement as well. It all backs my opinion that dance is a great way to stay healthy and fit while pregnant and can ease your recovery time after. While it may be important for you to get back to normal after birth, I believe it’s more important to reap those benefits of staying fit during pregnancy and then ease back into the activity and let your core and pelvic area heal.
So, just why is dance so great for you when you have a bump? Let’s leap into my favorite top five facts.
Number One: Dancing Improves Mood and Reduces Stress
A Berkeley University of California wellness article, states that dancing has been shown to significantly reduce depression, anxiety, and stress. This impacts your blood pressure and decreases adrenaline. The love and bonding hormone oxytocin is released into the system paving the way for not only happiness but an easier labor and delivery in the future. Anytime you exercise this happens, but according to a study in PubMed, dance not only reduced symptoms of depression but it also staggeringly cut down on stress, even more than a mindful meditation session. During pregnancy, women need all the support they can get to combat the body changes and hormone flooding that can greatly affect your stress level.
Number Two: Dance Gives You Confidence
Being a human in modern society, let alone a pregnant human, means we struggle with self-image from time to time. Dance can generate confidence by boosting self-esteem, body image, coping ability, and an overall sense of well-being with the long-lasting benefits. The more confidence you have overall the more confidant you will be while laboring.
Number Three: Dancing Improves Total Body Health Starting with the Heart and Lungs
Anytime you engage in aerobic activity your heart and lungs reap massive benefits. During pregnancy, your organs are working overtime to keep up with producing a tiny person(s). Improving the efficiency of the organs in charge of circulation and respiration along with a healthy diet really is the cornerstone to ensuring a more balanced and healthy body. The more efficiently the circulatory and respiratory systems work the easier it is on your body’s ability to create life.
Number Four: Dance Improves Muscle Tone and Flexibility
On the big day, you will need every ounce of strength, stamina, and openness you can muster. Dancing works to engage muscles while your balance and body weight shifts around forcing the muscles to adapt to the rhythmic changes. The very act of dancing improves your strength and suppleness in areas you didn’t know existed before and line up with muscles you need to not only carry your young one inside the womb but outside as well.
Number 5: Dance Provides Exercises that Focus on the Hips and Pelvic Area
When baby makes their debut, one area that is getting a significant metamorphosis is the hip and pelvic structure. Ensuring that the joints are prepared in time for birth can make a pretty big difference in the length and intensity of your labor and provide you versatility in laboring positions. Certain movements in dance are really lubricating and strengthening for your pelvic area. Pair this activity with maintaining optimal levels of hydration and a great diet and you’ve got it made for birth.
Now whether it has been as a student, a teacher in the studio, at the gym, in the club, or even in my own living room, I have never been very good at going too long without dancing. Dance has always been a huge part of my life so it was no question that when we became pregnant with our daughter I would continue to head to Zumba and yoga class. I didn’t suffer from as much brain fog, as much anxiety, or fatigue and my labor was swift and easy compared to my son’s which ended in an emergency cesarean section. I also feel like it helped me battle the bouts of depression after baby that threaten to turn into the more series postpartum depression. Dance was beneficial for me before, during, and after the conception and birth of our daughter and I know I am not alone in this experience.
I applaud you if you are taking the steps to be healthy and fit during pregnancy whatever that entails. If morning sickness or other conditions have you bed bound I salute you as well for you are still forming a tiny human in your womb and deserve so much respect. If you are interested in local classes to take in your area while pregnant get on that search bar or head to your full-service gym. Speak with the instructors find out what classes would suit you best for whatever level you are. If you are local to the Sonoma County area feel free to contact me by email and I’d be happy to point you in the direction of some movement magic. Better yet come and check out our next Friend of Thrive Event “Dance for Baby Bumps” on July 30th from 6-9pm at Fierce Fitness in Santa Rosa and help us raise money for families seeking midwifery care and out of hospital birth but cannot afford it. Follow the details on the event flyer image for details.
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