What is Dancing for Birth™?

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by Amity McElroy, Educator CIMI, CD

Are you looking for a safe exercise program for pregnancy? Or maybe you want to dance your way through labor, or you would like more community postpartum… 

If so, Dancing for Birth™ is for YOU!

Dancing for Birth is a world-renowned, evidence-based method for labor and birth, and for every stage of your pregnancy and postpartum. Classes are coming to Dar a Luz soon and will take place weekly online or in-person. Each 90-minute class includes relaxation, comfort measures, dancing, prenatal education, positioning, pelvic floor work, and then closes with centering. Besides being a fun way to stay in shape, there are benefits for you, your baby, your birth and your health!

For your baby

  • Recreational exercise decreases the chances of both premature labor and the birth of a very small baby.1
  • Maternal exercise throughout gestation improves fetal heart health.2
  • Upright positions and mobility during birth significantly lowered admissions to neonatal intensive care.3
  • All aspects of growth and development after birth in babies from exercising mothers are equal to or better than those of babies from non-exercising mothers.1
  • At five years old, children whose mothers exercised during pregnancy scored much higher on tests of general intelligence and oral language skills.1
  • Baby is 54% less likely to become distressed during labor/birth if mother is in an upright position.4

For your birth 

  • 99% of women who were upright and mobile during birth said they would make the same choice again.5
  • Healthy pregnant women are advised to get at least 2 1⁄2 hours of aerobic exercise every week.1
  • Being upright during labor and birth can increase the available space within the mother’s pelvis by up to 30%.4
  • Shorter labors (by more than an hour)
  • 20% fewer epidurals
  • 21% fewer episiotomies
  • 23% fewer assisted deliveries (forceps, vacuum)
  • 30% fewer cesarean surgeries
  • Women who use movement in labor report that it is an effective method of relieving pain.6

For your health 

  • Exercise helps prevent Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM), the most common medical complication of pregnancy.7
  • Engagement in structured dance for 12 weeks decreases depression levels.8,12
  • Dance promotes the release of endorphins known to decrease stress and alleviate pain.8
  • Dance reduces muscle tension and promotes relaxation.9
  • Dance improves communication and physical coordination.10
  • Women who participated in a 12 month, 3 hour per week dance class had no evidence of expected bone loss, and those who had osteoporosis experienced increased bone density.11

Sources Us Department of Health and Human Services

1. Exercising Through Your Pregnancy, by Klapp III

2. Aerobic exercise during pregnancy influences fetal cardiac, by May LE et al

3. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Oct 9;10:CD003934. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD003934.pub4. Maternal Positions and Mobility During First Stage Labour, by Lawrence et al

4. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2012, Position in the second stage of labor for women without epidural anaesthesia, by Gupta JK

5. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Oct 9;10:CD003934. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD003934.pub4. Maternal positions and mobility during first stage labour. Lawrence et al

6. Storton, S (2007). The Coalition for Improving Maternity Services: Evidence basis for the ten steps of mother-friendly care. 16(Suppl.1), 25s-27s.

7. The Role of Exercise in Reducing the Risks of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus, by Sarah A Hopkins, Raul Artal

8. Randomized clinical controlled trial by Akandere and Demire (2011)

9. Blasing et al (2012)

10. Krampe (2013)

11. Kudlacek et al

12. Dancing For BirthTM Participant Survey, 2015

From Dancing for Birth™  founder,  Stephanie Larson

Amity has been with Dar a Luz as an Educator since 2013. Prior to that she worked as a Doula and Educator in the Hospital, Family Resource Centers, and Doula Collectives. Her journey into birth began after being inspired by the home birth of her first child and in 2018 her fourth child was born at Dar a Luz!

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