Dance those pregnancy blues away
Just because you’re pregnant don’t throw away your dancing shoes.
As your body works hard to grow your baby, you can do your bit by keeping fit, and dancing is such good exercise that even mums-to-be who have never stepped foot onto a dance floor before are advised to give it a go.
Dance can maintain fitness levels, relieve stress, improve your endurance, and keep your whole body toned and flexible. And you may not even notice that you’re doing a workout, so it’s a win-win situation.
Dance studio v gym
If the thought of a gym session or going for jog leaves you wincing, you may find the idea of dancing more enticing. The fun, social aspect can give you the motivation to get up and get moving even when you’re feeling down – whether you choose to take a class or just dance in your living room to your favourite tracks on Spotify, dance is great for pregnant women.
And there are many dance styles to choose from, all with their own unique moves, so you have plenty of choice when deciding which form is for you.
Precautions for safe dancing
Always seek medical guidance – If you’re thinking about taking up an antenatal dance class in your second trimester, then talk to your doctor or midwife first beforehand. For any new exercise activity, you will need to receive proper medical advice and guidance from a health professional.
And always let your dance instructor know you’re pregnant, so they can modify moves for you.
Get the proper nourishment – You will want to make sure you’re sufficiently fuelled for your dance session. Have a light snack a couple of hours before heading out to your class to help boost your energy levels – but don’t eat immediately before as this can cause discomfort. And always make sure you take a bottle of water with you and keep it in an accessible place so that you can easily take sips at regular intervals.
Proper hydration is very important for everyone, pregnant or not, during any exercise. And now that you’re carrying a baby, it’s all the more vital that you avoid overheating.
Feel the rhythm, not the pain – When pregnant your body goes through many changes, one of which is the release of a hormone called relaxin.
Relaxin helps loosen your ligaments ready for labour, but this also leaves you more susceptible to injury. So, you’ll need to warm up properly before you begin dancing. Start at a low intensity and then gradually build up the pace. Skipping the warm up and doing too much too soon will mean you’re likely to suffer an injury. If you’re attending a class, your instructor should have a suitable warm up prepared.
Avoid any movements that contort your body too much, as these can cause you to lose balance and fall. Jumping can put a real strain on your ligaments, so leave out any moves that require you to leave the floor.
Keep it steady and slow – Your second trimester is when your pregnancy starts becoming noticeable to others as the growth of your uterus becomes apparent. It’s possible for your shifting weight to offset your balance, so, don’t push yourself too much at anything complicated that could potentially lead to a fall. A good rule of thumb is to keep one foot on the floor at all times. This means that lifts are out. Joining an antenatal dance class will ensure that you’re in the same situation as everyone else and that the instructor will know not to let anyone attempt something that is too risky.
Finding your groove
There are several dance styles that, as long as you follow all the standard pregnancy exercise precautions, are great for pregnant women.
Belly dancing is good for pregnant women because it tends to be slow paced and smooth – perfect for you and your developing baby. The movements of belly dancing involve a lot of swaying and hip drops, helping to work the abdominal muscles.
Belly dancing will also help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which is very important during and after pregnancy. Your pelvic floor muscles control your bladder and bowels, so if they are weak, it can lead to incontinence.
Salsa dancing will give you an effective aerobic workout while not being too strenuous.
Ballroom dance is a classy dance style that’s safe to do in pregnancy, as long as you remove any lifts from the routines. Further alterations may be needed as you continue to grow.
Samba is a lively dance hailing from Brazil that will help you inject some fun into your workout. Again, you and your dance partner should not attempt any lifts.
Which dances are too dangerous?
Because of the traditionally jerky movements, it is not recommended that you attempt hip-hop, urban, street, or cheerleading dance styles. If you’ve already been attending classes that teach these styles before your pregnancy, then it may be OK for you to continue, but check with your doctor or midwife first. Tap dancing involves a lot of short and quick jumps, which can be hard on your joints, so this, too, is probably best avoided.
Forget any dance routines involving leaps and sudden changes of direction because they could cause you to lose your balance.
Ballet is only advisable if you are very experienced because, again, it involves you putting pressure on your joints, and it also requires you to have very good balance, more so than other forms of dance. If you’re a beginner in ballet and are not confident in your ability, then you may have to postpone your lessons until you’ve giving birth because the risk of falling is too high. You may be able to continue, however, as long as you avoid moves that have you in a precarious position and modify your routine to be low impact.
Keep in mind that while you still may be ok to dance with a partner at the moment, it might become more difficult to keep up with them as your baby continues to develop. This is why choosing a style where your able to perform the steps alone, such as belly dancing, might be a better idea that one that requires you to double up.
When taking part in the recommended dance styles for pregnant women, it’s crucial that you stay aware of how your body is feeling. No one else knows your body or can judge how you’re feeling better than you, so if you start to feel overwhelmed, you need to drop the intensity. And if you start to feel dizzy or nauseous, then don’t be afraid to stop and take a breather away from everyone else until you feel comfortable enough to continue.
And of course, as long as take note of the precautions above, while you still feel able, why not just dance in your living room, or while you’re cooking dinner, or even on a night out with friends – dancing is good for the soul so why not just do it. You’ll be doing yourself and your baby a favour.