Although I have danced through each of my pregnancies and although I have cherished the power of a woman’s body to birth a baby both naturally and peacefully, it was not until my third pregnancy that the Dancing for Birth concept was made a reality.
Something about dancing at my belly dance classes with a babe in utero felt very right. Rotating my hips in my living room with my pregnant self and a video called Bollywood Booty also felt very right, almost spiritual. And, then there was the one specific moment in the midst of doing a ‘figure-eight.’ “This,” I thought, “is what pregnant women need to prepare for childbirth!”
I was in the middle of doula training through Birthingway College in Portland, OR and in the middle of an extensive reading list including books from Ina May Gaskin, Tina Cassidy and Michel Odent. I had the head knowledge to promote positive, low-intervention births and I had both personal and professional experiences seeing those births first hand. But dance, I concluded, was the ticket to get pregnant and laboring women from fear to freedom. I had a long term plan to develop a program which utilized dance in this way. Thankfully, in a local birth support meeting, another doula mentioned Dancing for Birth. I went home that night and immediately signed up for the next available workshop in my area.
I knew that the workshop would be fulfilling and exciting. However the workshop far exceeded my expectations. Founder Stephanie Larson displayed such conviction in her instruction and such wisdom. To what I had come to believe about dance and birth, she gave words, she gave names (dilation gyration), she gave inspiration and she gave confidence. At this point, I knew dance to be a powerful way for women to trust their bodies in birth. And at the DFB training Stephanie Larson had given me an arsenal of tools to further communicate the message. But, could I convince women who didn’t dance and who had neutral and even negative feelings towards labor that this could be an essential part of their pregnancy and birth? Once I completed my demonstration class, the answer was a resounding yes. One first-time momma in attendance said, “I really bonded with my baby and realize that the baby and I are in this together.” This was also a momma who claimed not to be a dancer. I am pleased to say her coin scarf jingled the loudest.
So, to the Dancing for Birth sisterhood, I bring my skills as a doula, as a world-dancer and as an advocate for empowered birth experiences and could not be more pleased to do so.