Belly dancing can be especially good for muscles that are used during labor and delivery, and of particular benefit for the pregnant woman. Some of the muscles that are specifically strengthened during Middle Eastern dance, which can benefit the pregnant woman:
- The muscles of the abdominal wall (rectus abdominus, obliques): These muscles are used in performing chest circles, undulations, belly flutters and rolls, and are the same muscles that come into play when the woman is pushing during delivery.
- The gluteal muscles (the bottom): These are used when doing hip lifts, drops, and locks.
- The quadriceps (the thighs): these are used to support the body during dance, and with traveling movements.
- Pelvic floor muscles: These are indirectly exercised when doing pelvic rolls and tucks. These muscles are directly involved in the birthing process.
Other muscle groups that are strengthened by belly dance:
- Rectus abdominus muscles (long front belly muscles) used in combination with the pyramidalis (just above the pubic bone).
- Obliques/transversalis (muscles that wrap around from the back to the waist in front) are also strengthened.
- Vaginal muscles: strengthened when performing pelvic omi circles slowly, with tightening of the vaginal muscles. This exercise can help with pushing during labor, and strengthens the support for the base of the bladder and the uterus.
- Improves body image and self esteem
- Improves posture and core stability
- Movements promote optimal position of the baby in the uterus/pelvis during pregnancy
- Learn to recognize tense muscles
- Increases breathing capacity, rib cage mobility, and space for stomach to function optimally (prevents gas & constipation)
- Improves circulation
- Reduces symptoms of fatigue
- Conditions the mind to focus on moment to moment awareness, which is a great tool for labor
- Belly dance movements are nurturing for the baby
- Babies at 20 weeks and beyond can enjoy music played (which has been found to calm and relax newborns when hearing the same song from when in utero)