Dance during pregnancy is a safe way to exercise, stay fit, and have fun. Most healthy women can dance throughout their pregnancy. The following tips will help you have a safe and rewarding experience.

Women who have been dancing on a regular basis before pregnancy can continue dancing at the same level during the first trimester of pregnancy without any concerns. This includes movement such as jumping, leaping, and hopping; however, care must be taken to avoid jarring movements including high impact tap-dancing.

Dance comes from the center of your body and involves balance, correct body alignment, and muscle training. As you begin finding your correct body alignment and balance, your body will change. Finding your ?center? is doubly challenging when your baby and abdomen are growing. As you get bigger, you will have to keep finding your correct body alignment. If you are cautious and aware of your body, you will enjoy the rewards of dance during these changes. Avoiding falls which can cause abdominal trauma is important. If any trauma occurs, it is important to call your doctor immediately.

Maintaining your balance while dancing is more difficult during the second and third trimesters. Many women begin swaying in their lower back as their stomachs grow outward, creating an arch in the lumbar region, which is how the body compensates for the weight of the baby. However, this also changes the center of gravity and throws off balance and body alignment.

Proper body alignment will help you the most in keeping your balance while dancing. Tuck your bottom under, keep your ribs from sticking out, and use your stomach muscles. It's important to know your limitations; you can seriously risk your baby's health if you lose your balance and fall.

Women who have been turning (spinning in circles) during the first half of their pregnancy may continue to do so during the second half. Your body will begin to understand where your proper balance lies and will make proper adjustments as you get bigger. You do not need to stop movements that you feel confident in performing, especially if you dance regularly.

Pregnancy hormones cause a loosening of the ligaments and a relaxing of the joints during the second and third trimester. You will feel more flexible, but injury is more common because your body loses its firmness and control. Be cautious about this additional flexibility and do not exercise beyond your limits. You can use this added flexibility to your advantage after giving birth by continuing to stretch immediately after delivery. This will help maintain your flexibility and ease your body back into full activity.

During the last three months of pregnancy, consider decreasing the frequency and level of dance. Tone down rigorous dance moves such as jumping and leaping. If you are jumping, be sure to cushion your landing with smooth continuous movement (bending your knees in plié), reducing the jarring of your feet and legs, as well as potential injuries. Landing improperly can jolt the baby inside the womb.

Refrain from jumping, leaping, and hopping during the last six to eight weeks and begin low-impact dancing. You can maintain this level of dance until you give birth, but pay attention to the clues your body gives you. Not all women are able to continue dancing until delivery.

After you have had your baby, discuss with your doctor your plans for returning to dance. Many factors are involved, including how long you danced before giving birth, how your body is recovering, and whether you delivered vaginally or by cesarean section. A woman who dances until late in pregnancy and delivers vaginally with no complications can usually start dancing within three to four weeks. Women who delivered by cesarean section or who sustained a significant vaginal tear during delivery will need at least six weeks. Start slowly and listen to your body as you regain full speed.

Why Tap-dancing Is Different

Tap-dancing, which requires continual hopping and jumping, should be decreased-if not stopped altogether-after 16 to 20 weeks of pregnancy. The high-impact jarring can cause risks for both the mother and the baby. After the first trimester, low-impact tap is recommended. This tap-dancing replaces a step for a jump and a heel for a hop. Consult with your doctor so you'll know when to stop tap-dancing completely.