With Mother's Day just around the bend, it's time to talk about becoming one!
Last year I (Mallory) compiled a little guide for dancers who are pregnant and wanting to continue their career post-pregs. Little did I know that my very own oven would be baking a bun in the near future. If you didn't catch my drift, I am growing a baby. This experience thus far has been incredible really- not always fun- but incredible. I suggest it to everyone. Actually, I would like to rally more dancers to get pregnant- preferably soon. You see, there is a good probability that my baby will be a dancer or some sort of artsy-fartsy type and my baby needs friends with similar inclinations. Your baby also has a strong possibility of being artsy; therefore, our babies could be friends. So go ahead already, light some candles and make a baby. This may seem selfish, but understand this request as a mother's protective instincts- c'mon, a kid needs friends!
In all seriousness, pregnancy really is incredible. Within nine months, our bodies adapt to accomodate the needs of a growing baby which prepares precious him or her for survival outside of the womb. As dancers, we are acutely aware of any changes that occur in our bodies, and boy, does your body change during pregnancy! The ability to control and manipulate your body is temporarily on hold. I've been learning to let go of thinking that I can have complete control over my body and learning to surrender to the beautiful process occuring inside. If you desire to read on, below is a short guide for dancers who are pregnant...
Dancers: Pregnancy and Parenthood 101
For the serious dancer who relies on an able body and flexible schedule, starting a family can seem daunting. The incredible physical changes that occur during pregnancy can be overwhelming for one who is accustom to understanding her body. Once the baby is born, negotiating time for a career around being an active parent seems impossible. Whoa! How is this done? After interviewing dancing mothers, one can see how dancers can continue their dance career during pregnancy and after their child is born. Seems like dancing and parenthood can lead to a rewarding and exciting life!
If you want to have a baby, get your priorities straight! Family first!
-“Starting a family was more important to me than how it fit into my career. Instead, I have shaped my career around those choices.” Gretchen Pick
-“For me, my performing days were behind me. I waited until I was 33 (to have her daughter).” Melissa Brown Gunther
-A committed counterpart is definitely a helpful addition. Not only important for the baby’s wellbeing, but also is another person to juggle the childcare duties when continuing to pursue your dance career.
So, you’re pregnant… Keep on, keepin’ on
-Continue your pre-pregnancy routine, but this is not the time to try a new physical activity. You want to engage in activities where you know your limits (from babycenter.com).
-Keep teaching! Some women teach up until their due date, then find subs for maternity leave.
-“Often times I was more comfortable teaching and demonstrating than walking or sitting” Melissa Brown Gunther
-Keep dancing! Both Gretchen and Melissa (at 7 months!) performed during pregnancy.
Know your physical changes (from babycenter.com)
-In early stages of pregnancy, the heart has to work harder to circulate increased blood flow. Thus, any exercise during pregnancy will be more difficult to perform than usual.
-Heart rate also increases, so it will take longer for the heart to find resting place after a workout. Modify movements to lower heart rate.
-The risk of injury is higher because of the hormone relaxin released that loosens the body’s connective tissues. Muscle strain and tearing could easily occur due to loose joints! Bad news! So listen to your body and don’t push it…
-At the end of the second trimester, balance becomes more of an issue because of a growing baby bump. Splits, leaps, and jumps are a bad idea at this point.
Be safe and modify!
-Always keep one foot on the floor
-March instead of jumping
-Use fewer arm movements
-Avoid quick turns in direction. Twisting in abdomen can be harmful to baby.
-Balance with barre or wall for support
-Take prenatal yoga classes
-LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! IF DISCOMFORT ARISES, STOP THE EXERCISE!
Now you’re a mommy and a dancer…
Back to dancing
-“It felt like jumping into a cool lake on a hot day” Gretchen Pick
-“Easy dancing and yoga in 1-2 weeks and teaching within 3-6 weeks” Gretchen Pick
-“6 weeks off from teaching, 6 months until performance” Melissa Brown Gunther
Keeping family 1st
-“My priorities are around my family, not around my career. I am less flexible in my schedule… but it doesn’t feel like a loss to me. It feels like exactly what I want.” Gretchen Pick
-“When I’m not working, I want to be with my family. I am sure the motivation to find work will come again.” Melissa Brown Gunther
-Engage in your passion
“I often really appreciate the time I have teaching, moving, taking class, and feel it is very important for me to feed that part of me.” Gretchen Pick
-Involve your children in your passion
Bring children to class, rehearsal, shows (when appropriate).
*Information gathered from Tracy Mallett, fitness expert on babycenter.com, Melissa Brown Gunther, and Gretchen Pick
Compiled by Mallory Dykema