Birth Dancing – gentle movements from ancient wisdom for pregnancy, birth and beyond
Dance with your baby
Birth is a dance…
Bellydance is not a term I particularly favour for the common misconception and image it conjures up to many people in the West. However, for all intents and purposes, I feel that ‘bellydance’ is apt in its description for this form of birth dancing. In essence, it is a dance centered in the belly, the source of human life. Movement and energy radiate from the belly, the blossoming sanctuary in which your baby will enjoy floating in his own little ocean until the day you first gaze into each other’s eyes.
To cut a very long story short, Raqs Orientale (Oriental Dance) and all its variations and forms across the Near and Middle East is a dance primarily and historically shared by women; to celebrate, to communicate, to enjoy and to mark important rites of passage. It represents community, solidarity, femininity and self-expression. Wisdom and tradition seep liberally through generations, becoming an integral part of women’s lives and well-being. Childbirth is viewed as a normal life event and from childhood girls learn how to use the muscles in their hips, abdomen and pelvis; they are loose and flexible.
In comparison western women rarely use all the muscles required during birth and with our ever increasing sedentary lifestyle, we replace this body confidence and flexibility in the pelvis with technology and fear, hence our intervention-biased birth culture.
By learning to embrace and appreciate a growing belly, strengthen the core muscles and move instinctively to the rhythm of birth, we are reclaiming our ability to birth our babies as nature intended. Pregnancy is a joyous occasion and should be celebrated. It is absolutely the perfect time to dance and even more so, to dance with your baby. Your journey together needs happy memories and time away from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives and preoccupations.
These ancient moves and gentle motions serve to tone the body, strengthen and engage the muscles used during birth, relax the mind and enliven the soul. Movements that form the essence of oriental dancing can bring an array of benefits for women pre-conception, during pregnancy, labour, in the post-natal period and beyond.
As a birth doula I have cherished observing how bellydance has empowered the women I work with. My relentless study in this area has been substantiated by the positive outcomes I witness first-hand, particularly during childbirth. I can attest to the power of these fluid movements in terms of pain relief above all, mobility, flexibility and self-confidence. In addition, common pregnancy complaints such as lower-back pain, sciatica, heartburn, tiredness and swelling of joints can be gently eased. Inspiration from like-minded teachers in Europe and America, along with study in Bellydance For Birth the Al Musa Method, has enriched my unique classes, benefitting each expectant mama who attends according to her individual needs and journey as a parent.
I am a mum of three, birth doula and bellydancer. I warmly welcome you to you the following classes:
As a doula, I bring my birthing wisdom to enrich your ante-natal preparation and discuss the benefits and uses of each area I teach, both for pregnancy and new motherhood.
The aim of this class is teach traditional Oriental Dance (bellydance) and specific Birth Dancing movements as a method of birth preparation and to provide a gentle introduction to exercise before and after the birth of your baby. These movements promote well-being through pregnancy and encourage natural birth, by working with the muscles used during labour. Often providing relief from many common pregnancy discomforts, Birth Dancing provides a means of safe, low-impact exercise, beneficial for birth and breastfeeding, post-natal recovery, aiding fitness and flexibility within your changing body.
Learn how to build strength and confidence for an empowered labour, birth experience and transition into motherhood. Come and join a relaxed, nurturing and welcoming group, whilst enjoying some time to bond with your baby!
Gentle bellydance based exercise classes for mums & bubs/toddlers/kindies. Perfect for baby-wearing and child friendly. No experience necessary, suitable for all levels of fitness and during pregnancy. Focused on post-natal healing and wellness.
A great way to improve fitness or enjoy a gentle introduction to exercise, build body-confidence, bond with your baby or watch your child enjoy the freedom of dance in a friendly, relaxed and welcoming group.
The class structure and teaching style benefits and respects all women regardless of their birthing and parenting choices. I promote wellness for mind and body. Please contact me for booking details.
WISE WOMAN WELLNESS
BIRTH DANCING PARTNER PREP WORKSHOPS – for couples/birth partners
I am often asked in class about how to explain to, demonstrate and prepare partners for the labour you are working towards and envisage. This birth preparation session is a way to bridge the gap! Including your chosen partner(s) and helping them feel empowered to support you with the movements and information you have learnt. It’s a relaxed, non-judgemental meet-up to share and prepare for your special day. I follow this up with free support via telephone, SMS or email.
“Rachel provided an overview for my support people of the main dancing movements in the different stages of labour, as well as those to help if there are specific issues during the labour. This has allowed me to relax with the knowledge that I don’t need to remember all the moves myself.” K
“I started Birth Dancing classes early in my pregnancy, as a fun kind of physical exercise for my pregnancy journey and I found much more than that. Rachel is an amazing belly dance teacher and knowledgeable doula, which was very important to build up my confidence during my pregnancy and a perfect combination to support me throughout my 9 month journey. Every class I had fun and also learned new movements that could help me during the labour. My husband, my mom and I attended a partner preparation workshop with Rachel which helped us to understand our roles during birth and we ended up having a positive birth experience. Thank you Rachel.” SM
Please contact me for more details.
“This pregnancy has been a lot more comfortable than my last, I’m sure as a result of the Birth Dancing. I love the classes and love that you give us lots of other support from your experience as a doula. I have benefitted from learning moves that can help in labour, plus all the other pearls of wisdom you impart each week! I feel relaxed, uplifted and connected after class.” S
“Thank you for the class today, I really enjoyed it. You are so very gentle and friendly, you made me feel welcome and at ease. And what a beautiful, magical setting! A true healing place. I wasn’t feeling great before coming but I left feeling happy and light.” D
“I would recommend the classes to other women as you receive plenty of useful tips and information, plus you meet beautiful mums in the same situation as you. The classes provided me with an ‘escape’ from hectic life. I’m always leaving feeling relaxed and rejuvenated and I’m feeling more confident about a natural approach to giving birth.” M
“The classes are a great way to get comfortable with your body in pregnancy and bond with other women. Thank you Rachel for not just the effort you put into this class, but the love. You are truly living out your calling in life and we are so blessed to have you.” R
“I decided to enrol in Birth Dancing classes for exercise, birth preparation and community building. They have helped me build my labour toolbox and I leave feeling awesome too!” L
“The classes were something new for me to do with my son. He loved joining in, then also being able to go and play when he wanted to. I loved how Rachel taught us each step slowly and I felt I knew how to do each move. Thanks for a fun term Rachel!” J
“It has been a pleasure for me to come to your classes. I really enjoy it and it has exceeded my expectations as I have learned more than dance and have the opportunity to develop body consciousness. Every class I learn something and I feel relaxed and accomplished. Thank you for your kindness and generosity!” SS
“Hugest thanks to you, for not just teaching us moves to help birth our babies, but for all the ‘value adding’ that you do…of empowering us with knowledge to help avoid unnecessary birth interventions, to reduce our fears and therefore enable our bodies to birth more unhindered. You are so genuinely caring and interested…I look forward to shimmying it up again next year at the mums and bubs classes!” SW
“Rachel does not judge you based on your birthing choices/beliefs – rather she caters to you where you are at and ensures you are empowered and aware of your options so you feel in control. I feel like the classes have empowered me to believe that birth is a beautiful privilege that I am capable of enjoying and creating a happy memory for myself. Every time I leave I feel calm and grateful.” KC
“Rachel is a kind, attentive, observant teacher and mentor. She is patient in understanding and catering to the learning needs of the individual, bringing her passion to facilitate a fun experience.” CFJ
“I would recommend the classes to all pregnant mothers, the information and support I have received from lessons has been awesome…I feel like my back is more comfortable and I always go home feeling great!” SR
“I have absolutely loved joining in your Birth Dancing class these last weeks! It is such a lovely break from hectic life!! You have created such a nurturing environment; it’s clear how much passion you have for what you do. I really look forward to it every week and it’s lovely to meet so many beautiful mammas.” C
“I wanted to thank you for a wonderful birth dancing experience throughout my pregnancy. I honestly believe that the combination of birth dancing, hypnobirthing and yoga (and a bit of acupuncture) contributed to a lovely birth. I wanted to thank you for being a special part of the journey.” KC
“I just wanted to let you know during my 3hour labour I used lots of movement to help me through I found when I stopped the contractions slowed down so I kept going for as long as I could but got to a point where I was in too much pain to move. Thanks so much for teaching me, I really had such a empowering labour and delivery this time round.” KT
“I was thinking about A’s birth yesterday and felt so overwhelmed once again. I know that if it wasn’t for you and your calming effect, the birth would have been a totally different experience. You brought my little girl into this world and just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. She may not remember you, but you will always be in my thoughts. Big love.” SB
I also offer personal sessions tailored to your specific needs whether that be combined with antenatal education, specifically for birth preparation and relaxation or post-natal strengthening and rejuvenation.
To say I have a passion for Oriental Dance is an understatement, as many who know me would confirm! It has become a part of who I am and continues to open my mind, heart and spirit on a daily basis. I am extremely lucky to learn from and study with inspirational teachers, researchers and professional dancers who have a wealth of experience from across the globe. I treasure being able to combine this dedication with my work supporting women and I will bring with me my contagious enthusiasm and genuine love for all I teach.
Class photography with gratitude to: www.janellekampphotography.com.au
I provide specific short workshops in Birth Dancing for labour preparation, empowered birthing and post-natal strengthening.
If you have a mums’/antenatal group who would like to have a demonstration, class or workshop, I will be happy to chat with you regarding your ideas.
ANCIENT WISDOM FOR MODERN MIDWIFERY PRACTICE
Workshops specifically tailored for midwives, student midwives and birth professionals. Please contact me for details of upcoming dates or to register your interest.
Birth Dancing Doula Services
For expectant mamas who wish to have additional support during labour, using Birth Dancing techniques and movements to encourage effective, empowering labour. Available for all doula packages and birth only options. Please see separate pages for details.
VBAC Story # 1
“My first birth I had a caesarean section which was traumatic both mentally and physically. So for my second one, I wanted to try for a natural birth. Rachel was a godsend; she helped me to heal first, then provided me with the knowledge, strength and support to achieve my goal and to trust in my body…I found the birth movements very relaxing and soothing. Through Rachel, I found my courage and strength and am pleased to say our daughter L was born naturally…thank you Rachel.” M
VBAC Story # 2
M and I both have the same dance teacher and dance together on a regular basis. She had been taking belly dance lessons for a few years prior to her second pregnancy, during which she danced throughout, even performing in her second trimester. We all enjoyed hearing how belly dancing was such a positive experience in her journey and birth preparation, whilst excitedly watching how her baby would move to the movements she danced. I have had the honour of working with her gorgeous family throughout her entire pregnancy as her birth doula. Here is a link to M’s incredible and inspiring natural birth and belly dance story (she actually gave birth in my car!).
Photo – M in the dance studio (35 weeks)
VBAC Story #3
A birthed in the most inspirational manner, using Birth Dancing movements throughout and showing true courage and determination despite her early ‘surprise’ arrival gracing our lives before her husband and daughter returned from a trip overseas. Such a pleasure to witness and support this special heart-warming event.
“What a transforming year! Thank you Rachel for being the calm, optimistic, nurturing angel you are. You have supported my growth as a mother, partner, daughter and mostly as an individual in ways I could never have predicted. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.” A