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Dancing During Pregnancy

Hi, all! A little bit about my work–what IS dance/movement therapy, and who can benefit from it?

Dance/movement therapy (DMT) promotes the mind/body/spirit connection through the psychotherapeutic modality of movement. According to The American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA), dance/movement therapy uses movement to “further the emotional, cognitive, physical and social integration of the individual.” Dance/movement therapy is practiced by a licensed clinician with a Master’s Degree. Through movement, DMT can help individuals with a wide range of psychological disorders achieve greater self-expression. DMT can also benefit anyone! DMT is effective for, but not limited to, individuals with medical, developmental, social, psychological, and physical impairments. DMT is used with people of all cultural, age, race, and ethnic backgrounds in individual, couples, group, and family formats. DMT is practiced in various settings. Some include medical, rehabilitation, mental health, nursing homes, day care centers, and private practice. You can read more about dance/movement therapy here.

Sometimes I’m asked by soon-to-be moms if it is safe for women to dance while pregnant–and, if so, how is it beneficial compared to other forms of therapy and exercise?

During pregnancy, a woman is undergoing considerably profound transformation, not only through the body composition and functionality of the physical body, but also within the psyche. An woman’s emotional and psychological parts are greatly affected due to the attachment she makes with the evolving fetus. Click here for more about the physical and emotional changes an individual endures during pregnancy.

Dance and movement can be an effective outlet for a woman to explore these various changes. Dance can connect a woman with her changing body and baby through awareness and movement. Dance can build a bridge to social support during pregnancy by taking dance classes with others who are expecting. These dance classes aren’t specifically dance/movement therapy, unless administered by a licensed dance/movement therapist. However, these specialty dance classes have great benefits. These classes can reduce stress levels, increase self-confidence, and promote the healthy flow of neurotransmitters in the brain and hormones in the body. You can read more about these classes here.

If classes aren’t available in your area, creative free movement an be explored on an individual basis at home or any space dedicated to the exploration of movement with or without a dance/movement therapist present. This spirited woman is a lovely example! (Note: spirited dancer Liz Brown is a friend of Katie’s and now has a beautifully healthy baby boy, thanks in part to her pirouettes.) Overall, dance, movement, and exercise can truly enhance the quality of life in pregnant women.

If you want to get moving and you’re looking for recommended websites, books, DVDs, classes, or other resources…

Tracy Anderson’s “The Pregnancy Project” is a useful resource with guided movement correlating to each month of pregnancy. She integrates dance, ballet barre, yoga, and weight training. You can also find these videos on YouTube for free! The Bump also has a complete list of favorite prenatal fitness DVDs.

All forms of dance aren’t for everyone at every stage of pregnancy. Below are a few “rules” or tips that women should keep in mind while shakin’ their thang when they have a bun in the oven:

The following is a summary of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ guidelines for exercising while pregnant:
• During the second and third trimesters, pregnant women should avoid standing motionless for too long and exercising while lying on their backs.
• Modify the intensity of your exercise according to your symptoms.
• Weight-bearing pre-pregnancy activities may be undertaken if there are no symptoms.
• Body changes that could lead to loss of balance should be avoided especially in the third trimester.
• Pregnancy requires an extra 300 kilocalories per day in order to maintain the nutritional needs of two.
• Keep in mind that many hormonal and body changes persist for four to six weeks post-partum, which is the riskiest time for injury.
• A wide range of recreational activities appears to be safe. However, activities with a high risk of falling or abdominal trauma should be avoided; these include basketball, soccer, in-line skating, downhill skiing, horseback riding, ice hockey, gymnastics and vigorous racquet sports.
• As always, check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program.

To read a full list of suggested “dos” and “don’ts,” read these guidelines.

What are some of your favorite get-you-movin’ songs?

Where do I begin? I have a plethora of songs that inspire my body to groove! Currently, “Work” by Rihanna/Drake, “Don’t Let Me Down” by The Chainsmokers, and “Light it Up” by Major Lazor are my favorite pop tunes. Other oldies but goodies include Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop “Til You Get Enough,” Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off,” and Bruno Mars “Uptown Funk”–those are among some of my favorites.

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