When Pema Schott walked into my Belly Dance class at Belly Motions, I had never seen a happier expecting mother…
Beaming with joy, wrapped in femininity… as she danced, she defied many of the misconceptions I had heard about pregnancy (somehow all I hear are horror stories!) and I knew I had to interview her. Intrigued by the notion that Belly Dance was once used as a birthing ritual to help women prepare their bodies for child birth, I wanted to know…
Is it true? Can belly dance really help with pregnancy?
What does it feel like?
(And above all – What was Pema’s secret?)
Pema was gracious enough to answer all of my burning questions! She was seven months pregnant when I interviewed her in July 2012.
Why did you start Belly Dancing?
My midwife actually recommended it after my first pregnancy. I always tell people being a mom feels like the GAP – suddenly it’s all t-shirts and jeans. I needed to reconnect with my sensuality.
How does this pregnancy compare to your first pregnancy?
I feel more connected with my belly, my baby, and myself in general!
What movements feel the best?
I love to shimmy! Letting your hips go and allowing them relax and shake feels so good! Sometimes when I’m home I do a few hip circles and then shimmy for about a minute to help with discomfort. It feels fantastic! I also love the warm-up in the beginning of class and the cool down, all of the gentle stretching we do.
Do any movements feel uncomfortable?
Undulations. Separating the upper abs from the lower abs feels fine, but connecting them feels weird!
Do you feel a connection with your baby while dancing, or are you completely focused on “you” while you’re in class?
It’s 50/50. I started Belly Dancing to reconnect with myself. It was just for me! But as I focus on what Belly Dance means for me now, I’ve started to tune-in and picture the baby rocking and being comforted by the movement.
Have you encountered any challenges in class?
Your breath becomes restricted, which makes it hard to feel relaxed while dancing.
How have you coped with this?
I don’t fight it. Otherwise, I get frustrated which just makes it harder. Also, I drink lots of water!
What are the benefits you’ve experienced from Belly Dancing through pregnancy?
On the emotional side, it totally boosted my self-esteem! I’ve lived in Miami my whole life. Miami is all about big boobs and having the perfect body. Seeing women skinnier, bigger, older than me loving their bodies, having fun, and just not caring, made me love myself even more! Also, my abs feel stronger!
Does Belly Dance still have a sensual quality to you?
It totally does. Even pregnant. As women we are cursed if we own our sensuality – it’s viewed as a bad thing. I don’t agree with overt sensuality, but being comfortable with yourself? Absolutely.
Do you have anything you’d like to say to other moms?
Don’t forget about yourself. It’s very easy to get lost in your kids. Children demand your attention and they have a right to your attention, but it’s also important to make time for yourself and keep getting to know yourself – that will benefit you greatly, and your children too!
Would you recommend Belly Dance to other women?
Yes. I have already, pregnant and non-pregnant, but it’s so frustrating because I’m met with such hesitancy from people. They think they have to be “perfect” before they go to class. It’s similar to yoga, people say, “Oh, I have to get flexible before I go to yoga, I have to loose weight before I Belly Dance.” NO! You GO to yoga to get flexible! You GO to Belly Dance to loose weight!
Do you think you should start Belly Dancing before pregnancy or is it something new mom’s can experience?
I’d say, ideally, you should experience it for the first time when you’re not pregnant so you can just be there, getting into your body and figuring it out. Getting to know YOU without any limitations.
OK, Final Question. Are you going to keep dancing after pregnancy???
Pema, thank you so much for sharing your story with us!
In addition, we’d like to extend a BIG THANK YOU to her husband!
“I just want to thank him. I couldn’t Belly Dance without my supportive husband who stays with the baby while I have my date with myself – that’s what we call it.” – A Grateful Momma, Pema
Are you a momma looking for a little more mommy empathy?
Check out Pema’s Wondermammas Blog!
Take a class at Belly Motions!