Comfort Measures in Labor: Dancing
From the moment we are strong enough to control our head, we start to dance. Babies bob their head to music, toddlers do that adorable squat bounce, older children run in circles, teens awkwardly sway back and forth with the boy she likes, and my husband and I dance to oldies while cleaning the house. There is just something about dancing. Even if we aren’t great dancers, we do it when we feel happy and it makes us happy when we are sad.
So what exactly is going on? Why does is boost our mood? And will incorporating dancing in labor actually help?
How does dancing work?
An article featured at Psychology Today states, “Dance/movement therapy, according to the American Dance Therapy Association, is based on the core belief that there is a fundamental interconnection between mind and body and what happens to the body can effectively influence the mind and vice versa.”
Dancing causes the body to inhibit the production of adrenaline (stress hormone) and pumps up the production of endorphins. Endorphins cause the body to relax and improve a person’s mood. Lifting the mood reduces fear and anxiety, boosts confidence, and will make adapting to possible changes in a birth plan less traumatic. Even if a mother needs a c-section or plans a c-section, keeping her endorphins flowing will leave her with a more positive birth experience.
Increasing the production of endorphins high also increases oxytocin which helps make contractions more effective. Thus, decreasing the length of labor and reducing the chance of a “stalled labor.”
Endorphins also act as the body’s natural pain reliever.
Does dancing in labor help?
Dancing in labor offers many benefits. First, dancing keeps mom upright. Staying upright is one of the best things a mom can do in labor. Dancing allows gravity to assist with bringing baby deeper into the pelvis. As the baby’s head presses against the cervix, the mother’s body produces oxytocin which makes contractions more effective.
Dancing in labor also keeps the hips and pelvis moving so that the mother’s pelvis will open wider giving the baby more room to move into the optimum position. This will also help alleviate back pain in labor. While a mom slow dances with dad, a doula can also use that opportunity to massage the mother’s back or use counter-pressure.
Not only is dancing great in labor but a great way to prepare for labor. One fun and very beneficial style of dance to get a woman’s body in shape for labor and delivery is belly dancing. This article describes how belly dancing may have actually been developed and taught to young girls to prepare them for childbirth. It claims that belly dancing was never designed to seduce men but rather to prepare a young girl’s body for her childbearing years.
If you are interested in taking prenatal dance classes, my friend Callie, The Swaying Doula, just started teaching group classes this week at the Grapevine Birthing Center. I highly recommend checking her out if you live in the area.
There are many benefits to using dance during pregnancy, in labor, and throughout life. It improves the mood, reduces stress, encourages bonding between the parents, improves the effectiveness of contractions, can help alleviate pain in labor, and helps baby move into a better position for birth.
Seeing a father comfort his wife and whispering sweet encouragement into her ear while they slow dance through contractions is one of the sweetest sights to behold.
Consider creating a couple of playlists for your labor. One for upbeat, stress-busting, mood-enhancing songs and one with slower, sweeter, quieter songs for slow-dancing.
If you are in the Denton, TX area and are interested in hiring a doula for your birth experience, contact me today to schedule a free consultation. If you are interested in learning about more comfort measures in labor, check out my Comfort Measures page.