Dancing Pregnant

Can I even write about this? Can I do it justice? I feel I must try. (Inspired by a post by Melena at African.Dance.Drum.Life!)

**

Dance speaks differently to each of us, and through each of us. Different songs and rhythms pull different bodies in different directions. A good standard jazz tune can’t keep me in my seat. A bad country song will find me not only leaving the dance floor, but the room, too. That’s just me.

Add pregnancy.

Talk about an addition! This amazing occurance does such new and strange things to our bodies and minds that dancing becomes a completely new experience all over again – and new again in a completely different way when a different pregnancy comes along.

When swinging and floating in the arms of my love, it’s heavenly. We’re reminded we’re not alone when a belly bumps between us, and we giggle. He forgives my unsteadiness, missed steps, tiredness… as he recognizes my body is a new skin each time I’m on the dance floor. We work so hard at finding and moving from our cores, as dancers… but when our core is filled with an entirely new being that “finding our center” becomes profound and sometimes overwhelming.

The dancing I love to do most is social – it cannot happen alone.  “I want to dance with the pregnant lady,” someone shouts across the floor! I’m dressed in an adorable little cherry covered dress with my belly popping out all over the dance floor. Only, the one who shouts out never does ask… and neither do any other single men. An aspect of the dance has ended – the flirtatious curiousity of exploring new dancers. I feel lost for a piece of the dance I love. It doesn’t happen to my husband. He still asks/gets asked by the single girls too. But only a small handfull of men see me anymore, though they smile appreciatively at the belly. Others remark, “Oh how cute!” and “I want to dance when I’m pregnant.” Do they have any idea what they’re saying?

The emotional aspect now involved in dancing, I cannot begin to explain. Others’ remarks are both welcome, and painful. The social dynamic, a whole new aspect. And most of all, there’s the relationship between myself and the new life inside.

My first son (we did not know it was a boy until it was born) loved for me to dance. He would complain with kicks when the music and movement ended. “But I’m tired,” I might say. “I don’t care,” I could almost hear him, “keep dancing!” Practice for conversations we would have after he was born. “You will be a dancer,” I would think. “At least you will share my love of dance!”

Some people love being pregnant. Some people feel great. Some have it easy. I think the SOME must be emphasized here. I believe it is a very small SOME. I never expected to love being pregnant. I did expect the physical hardships.

I began ballroom dancing my senior year of high school, 1996. I auditioned after learning the basic Cha Cha steps, and made it onto our school’s first ballroom dance team. Rehearsals were very early in the morning, and our coach would bark at us about the littlest thing. I hated her. When I got the part in the school’s musical, being at school from 5a.m. to 10p.m. became too much, and I quit the ballroom team. Visiting later, I discovered the coach was actually a nice woman, and completely changed after her baby was born. She was just a grumpy pregnant lady.

What I did not want, more than anything, was to become that grumpy pregnant woman. Oh, well. I was most certainly grumpy while pregnant. But I don’t think I took it out on any of my dance students. Instead, dance was an outlet I could work through my grumps, and physical difficulties, and connect with not only my center, but with my child.

My first pregnancy was a sensual one. I was constantly in the mood for some real down in-it blues dancing. Constantly. Or Belly Dancing would do. Rolling movements… with a round body… is something else.

My second pregnancy was a compeltely different story. It was harder. I was VERY tired. I did not *want* to dance. I never looked forward to teaching my classes, or helping out at practicas. However, when I did start moving it was so much easier, suddenly. With the right partner, or the right song, or when I was teaching, I could forget about myself and my tiredness and enjoy life again. But it wasn’t easy.

And then came the point where I couldn’t dance. That was heartbreaking. I had never wanted to get up, and now suddenly wanted to, when I couldn’t. I would still go to teach my classes – and let my husband lead physically, while I would sit and DJ and instruct from the sidelines. I had many mothers among my students who watched out for me. When I would get too excited and start doing something with more energy they would begin joking about me going into early labor. (I have to say the months-worth of pre-labor I had helped the real labor go along vey well, I think.)

I feel this has been far to rambly, and not getting out what I’m trying to say. I wonder if I can answer something more directly. Here is something I want to answer from the post that inspired my dribbling now:

“A part of me was worried too though — that if I were a pregnant mother — I’d surely lack the discipline to wade through the sensual dance waters and instead, surrender to my usual explosive dance making.

I started to think how dance might hurt my future child and if I’ll ever learn the calm so necessary to be pregnant and dancing… “

I love your first paragraph. Oh, the worries and wonders of it all. There is no answer to this, except for experience, which will be different for you than it was for me, or any other pregnant woman. For your second paragraph, though – if you are in good physical condition, explosive dancing will likely not hurt your future child. I think the only way dance could hurt a future child is after the child were born… if dance had priority over the child, or if dance was forced upon an unwilling child –  both seem unlikely scenarios.

I do not want to force dance upon my sons, but I want them to experience the love that dance speaks to me. I would love to equip them with better and earlier experiences and training than I had – but only time will tell what I am able to do, and what they will desire anyway. My two-year-old seems to enjoy it so far, and with his nickname of Jazz, he’s unlikely to be able to escape at least knowing some dance or music.

I guess I have to conclude that dancing pregnant is magic, wonderful, painful, awful, and nothing all that special – all at the same time. It will continue to be a part of your life. Things change both entirely and not at all when you’re pregnant. Suddenly, people are blown away by you continuing your life with things like dancing, or even signing political petitions, or things you used to do every day without a second glance. You learn what your priorities really are, when you must make a daily decision to pursue your priorities… which sometimes may be hiding in bed doing nothing more than growing or caring for a new life.

-Signing off from the corner of the bed, next to my beautiful sleeping infant…

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11 responses to “Dancing Pregnant

  1. Amberrrr! I’m so thrilled you wrote back and yes, you so nicely spelled out the complex brew of emotions and feelings you talked about.

    I especially enjoyed reading about the ways you and your partner connect while pregnant and balance each others’ capacities.

    And the bit about your high school dance teacher is just purely hilarious…she was probably so grumpy because schools are less likely to celebrate a pregnant teacher like a community dance class.

    Both my initial blog and your comments about people who are shocked when they see a pregnant woman going about everyday business, including dance, confirms that there’s a lot more to write at the intersection of motherhood and dance.

    I find the “that’s so cute!” comment so many pregnant moms get is short-hand for a bevy of questions people really have, which in my case, comes from a major pregnancy-envy and a surprising sense of fear of my body undergoing change.

    I can’t wait to cross-post your essay on my blog and maybe we can talk more about anthologizing this topic.

    Yes! And Congrats on your new boy! He’s found the mommy of a lifetime!

    Malena

  2. Beautifully expressed. Perhaps I should add my own thoughts to this topic, although I’m not sure it would be as eloquent as your post.

  3. Nichelle, please do. As I said, everyone’s experience is different. I would love to hear yours.

  4. Up to how many months pregnant can you dance? We are planning on having kids soon and this was very interesting.

  5. I think I am pregnant – I;m showing all the signs! I am a dancer and I am sooo scared that I wont be able or allowed to dance! I do very high impact dancing sometimes, hip hop and latin american! I am also afraid of picking up too much weight and then not being able to loose it after baby is born! I realise that there would be a certain period where you wont be able to dance, but then will having a baby affect your performance as a dancer?? Please help ease my mind a bit this is all too new for me and I have no idea what to expect???

  6. Hi Mimi,
    Congratulations! First off, I’m not a doctor, nor am I a midwife, but from what I’ve read and experienced, you can let your pregnancy affect you to whatever extent you want. Unless you have complications in your pregnancy, you should be just fine to do what you’re used to do one. As things change within you, dancing will feel different, but it’s up to you as to how much it will affect your performance.

    So, I would advice you to keep doing what you’re doing, and enjoy whatever you can.

    Motherhood is incredible, and has a lot of potential to change priorities.

  7. Daniel, You could dance all the way through if your body lets you! Although, there will be days and times where a pregnant body doesn’t *want* to dance.

  8. I have a question that’s not dance related, but I just need to know whats going on, I’m hoping someone can help me? My period is due in 2 days time. this last week I have been experiencing dull period like cramps, all day and everyday. (which is very unusual, coz my cramps are very strong and start on the day my period starts) today, I started this very light red spotting, and then, next time I checked, it was dark brownish spotting, and the cramping has been very heavy today!! Could this be implantation bleeding and cramps? Or is something wrong? Please, again, help ease my mind….! Thank you in advance!

  9. I am sorry Mimi, but I am not anywhere near an expert on such matters. You should consult a professional on this. Sounds to me like you should talk to you doctor.

  10. Pingback: Pregnancy and Parenthood in Dance « Dance Advantage

  11. Pingback: Pregnancy and Parenthood in Dance | Dance Advantage

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