Bellydance for Birth
An excerpt from “Dance of the Womb” By Maha Al Musa
For the first time a Middle Eastern woman, Maha Al Musa, presents a WORLD FIRST online e-book, Dance of the Womb, that reveals to all women the ancient art of bellydance as a tool toward better birth. Maha’s book is a step by step instructional and pictorial guide that illustrates the basic bellydance for birth movements from her cultural perspective. Maha also interweaves aspects of her personal life story from maiden to mother to take the reader on her own journey of discovery that uplifts and celebrates this dance of the feminine. This is an intro and extract from her breakthrough book “Dance of the Womb”.
“The depths of womanhood woven through the empathic Book of Knowledge inscribed within my ancestral roots, in turn firmly embedded within the power of my sacred cultural dance…the dance of the womb…the dance of life…the dance of the feminine. A dance for all eternity, for all love, passion and the ultimate gift; birth and creation”. Maha Al Musa.
"Bellydance for Birth" is a term I have used to describe the movements of the bellydance for their function as a birth dance. It is a safe and effective dance expression that supports women throughout pregnancy and labour providing a natural birthing technique that encourages and promotes active birth. With my profound experience of ‘Bellydance for Birth’, I can no longer contain the ripe womb of knowledge and feelings I have toward its implementation. I feel strongly to share my appreciation of its art with all women today.
As I document aspects of my life journey describing the emotional, physical and spiritual benefits of ‘bellydance for birth’ I would in turn hope to inspire all women to take a closer look at their own mothering journey and feel ready to bare the layers of herstory. The intense level of feelings and thoughts that arm you in its wake can be surprising. By taking a deep and honest look into our lives, in all its many shadows and colours, we can truly begin to understand what has influenced and formed our belief systems, values and personality over the years. By stripping down to the rawness of our deepest sub conscious and connecting to the feminine principle we can begin to let go of restrictive baggage. But this does not mean that we are in a state of denial rather it implies total acceptance of who we are as women without denying the scope of our emotional world that allows us to be fully present and fully human. In our quest for a blessed life we can be free to greet our mothering nature with open arms, instinctively opening the doors to our love and our fears never denying our feminine wiles.
An exercise such as ‘bellydance for birth’ embraced during pregnancy can act as a purposeful tool to help a woman before she steps into the gateway of birth. One of the key elements of this birth dance is that it can help bridge the gap between the primal brain (which knows how to give birth), and the modern woman (who may need to be reminded of her instinctual capacity), assisting her to claim back her most basic and inherent right as the Deliverer of Life. The birthing journey requires us as women to get back to a sense of life basics where intuition and instinct are normal (rather than abstract) means of expression. When implemented in pregnancy and labour, the birth dance enables a woman to connect to her feminine source without fear or shame.
There is no rush. The birth dance entrusts a woman to explore her pool of emotions and physicality in relation to her feelings around her femininity. Once she opens and dances toward this pelvic heart centre she can begin to peel back the deeper layers of her self and feel progressively free to discover, accept and release or embrace emotions that will accompany her on her mothering journey.
The main goal of ‘bellydance for birth’ within the framework of actual labour is to fully allow the labouring woman to help nature by moving with and not against the contractions she welcomes. Instead of tensing her muscles and mind with fear and apprehension toward pain, she accepts and surrenders actively, consciously and as best she can to each contractive wave she experiences. In the Middle East women would gather around the labouring woman dancing and crying out in sympathy with her birth experience ‘rendering the birth less painful’. (Bellydancing—The Serpent and The Sphinx, Wendy Buonaventura, 1983).
The smooth undulating movements of ‘bellydance for birth’ aid a woman’s ability to deal with her labour in an opening rather than restrictive fashion. The soothing rocking motions of the circular and figure 8 movements set the scene for a birthing woman to flow with the natural rhythms of her labouring body and become connected to Nature and Universe. Emotionally the birth dance opens up a well of feelings that cannot be easily locked away in pregnancy. I encourage women to feel the dance rather than to think the dance, just as birth is a predominantly feeling experience. Many of the movements I share with you in my book are the foundations upon which you can build your own birth dance exploring your individual journey. Each of our stories are unique but collectively weave together to make up a colourful book of birthing tales. Each with a strong connectedness to the last enchanted by that universal thread we call ‘existence.’
Finally, as a birth support person in many other women’s labours as well as my own I have witnessed the use of the ‘bellydance for birth’, and I acknowledge the power of its use. I am passionate about sharing a powerful tool that ALL modern women can utilise to enable them to have an empowered conscious birth experience.
Women’s experience of the power of Dance of the Womb:
Sheila Kitzinger; author and birth advocator says about Dance of the Womb
“Maha Al Musa’s writing is rooted in her personal observation and understanding of Arab birth culture, for whom birth traditionally is a powerful dance, and in which women work with the pain. She interprets it to help women in childbirth. Maha I love the way you write. It is personal, yet has universal significance”.
Megan; 37 years old, on birthing her second baby
"Maha is a dear friend of mine and I feel blessed she was my doula at the home-birth of my 7-month-old daughter Melody in January this year. I had attended several workshops with Maha during my pregnancy and found the movements to be highly relaxing and I felt they also helped me to “tune in” to my baby. They seemed such natural movements to make while pregnant – very different from some of the unnatural yoga poses I had been taught!
When it came to the birth I was lucky enough to have Maha with me during both pre-labour and active labour and she guided me through many of the movements during this time. I found when I was in labour the movements gave me a focus and helped me to have a sense of opening up. In the early stages of labour using Maha’s guide of spiralling my hips rhythmically in a figure-eight style really helped ease the tension building in my lower back. We danced our way through the birth! I just had to keep moving – whenever I stopped the pain would be unbearable.
I am a strong believer in active birth – and the bellydance fitted in perfectly with that.
My daughter’s birth was really quick – two and a half hours of active labour. Maha was there every step of the way!"
Angela Fitzgerald; Mother and Doula
I was drawn to Maha's Bellydance for Pregnancy classes one year before I was pregnant. I had studied dance with a Sufi teacher and a bellydance teacher and I loved the effect the dance had on my body and mind. When I heard there was a class for pregnant women I knew I had to be there.
I had been called.
Although not yet pregnant I begged Maha to let me attend her classes. She smiled warmly and told me I would be next. It was total bliss to be a part of those classes. Maha at the time was very pregnant, soft and deliriously relaxed and evocative. I was impregnated with joy to discover I could dance amongst the full bellied women. Swirling, swaying and flowing into a delicious state of being. I was in heaven.
Bellydance allows a woman to enter into a lucid trance state. From that space ones intentions can manifest easily.
A year or so later I became pregnant and my journey continued. Now I was qualified and had a rightful place in the classes. I danced all through my pregnancy, labour, birth, post natal period, early mothering and still to this day teach and dance with pregnant women. My six year old daughter now assists me.
I am deeply grateful to Maha for her pioneering work with pregnancy and birth. I wish that all women can have what I have had. There are so many benefits of dancing while pregnant. Firstly it is necessary for women to connect with other women while pregnant, especially in dance. We need to feel the new life within and the bellydancing gets you in touch with your body, its changing shape and your hips and the power that lives within them.
Bellydance for Birth relaxes your mind. A relaxed mind can embrace change, deal with pain, open to new states and mostly surrender. Pregnancy, birth and motherhood are all about surrender. When we surrender we open a space for something new to happen. When you let go of stress there is a space for something to flow in......peace.
A pregnant body needs to move to embrace the change. Bellydance for Birth gives a woman an opportunity to breathe change into all of her changing places. Breasts, belly, hips, heart, fingertips, womb. There is so much energy in a pregnant woman's being. It is much like being a snake; one sheds skin all the time and grows a new one. You cannot stay the same person when you are pregnant....old scales drop away and new ones grow.
Physically, emotionally and spiritually Maha's work is revolutionary and ground breaking. Extremely important work for the life givers....us women!!!!! The results are relaxed pregnancies, easy labours and gentle births.
I would love Maha's work to reach every pregnant woman on the planet. It's really very ancient, very wise, very gentle and very powerful news.”
Many pregnant women have also benefited from learning 'Bellydance for Birth' in Maha’s classes. Here are some of the things they have said about their experience:
Anna Watts, Childbirth Educator, 'Celebration of Birth Pregnancy Retreats'
“ It is a pleasure to have Maha on the 'Celebration of Birth' team of pregnancy practitioners. Her belief in a woman's ability to birth naturally is inspiring as she encourages them to loosen up and allow the pelvis to open for birth through the bellydance. Great music! I love the way Maha teaches - a fun, energizing and empowering session for every woman to feel more comfortable with their pregnant body.”
Tessa 28 years 39 weeks
“I am due now with a breech baby. The bellydancing made me feel strong and open, confident to attempt to deliver my baby breech. I will use the circling and figure 8 during labour as I want to be active to deliver my baby.”
Rebecca 23 years 30 weeks
'I am almost 20 weeks pregnant now, feeling great. Belly dancing has enabled me to become more in tune with my body and relax all tensions in my lower back; no more pain! My back feels so much more flexible. Thank you.'
Bron 35 years 27 weeks
“Bellydancing frees up a part of me that I didn't even know was there. It also feels so nurturing toward the baby - a little conversation between the two of us.'
Mary 41 years 20 weeks with baby no. 6
“After my first bellydance session I was totally amazed at the results. I have been to the chiropractor weekly for the last six weeks with heavy lower back pain. After bellydancing my back felt totally free of pain. I feel incredible. Thank you. Bellydancing makes me feel flexible, flowing and round.”
Helen 40 years 18 weeks
“Bellydancing was a beautiful opening experience on my first session. I became aware of where I was holding and tense in my pelvis. I felt truly sensual during and after the session.”
Eka 42 years 41 weeks
“Bellydancing always makes me feel softer and sensual. A very good way to forget about the daily rush and make contact with my deep feminine energy.”
Susanna 38 years 33 weeks
“'Bellydancing directly brings me into my body and especially into my pelvis in a really relaxed and sensual way. I love it!”
Cyd 32 years 25 weeks
'Bellydancing brings me into my sensuality with abandon and no rules.'
You can begin your bellydance for birth journey by buying and downloading Maha Al Musa’s e-book at: www.bellydanceforbirth.com .
“Dance to the rhythm of the music as you give birth to the rhythm of your body.”
Find More Information On:
- Belly Dance Teacher Training DVD
- Belly Dance Classes & Lessons
- Belly Dance Workshop
- Tips for Belly Dancing
- Secrets of Improvisational Belly Dance - Part 1
- Secrets of Improvisational Belly Dance - Part 2