Book Review: Dance of the Womb: The Essential Guide to Belly Dance for Pregnancy and Birth
By Maha Al Musa, 2008
260 page hardcover book, $49.95 (AUS)
Reviewed by Molly Remer, MSW, ICCE
Some books simply feel good to hold in your hands. Dance of the Womb is one such book: it is beautiful, both in content and appearance. While priced a little higher than some birth books, I cannot emphasize enough what a high quality book it is—-it is not a traditional trade paperback, it is of textbook quality and size. Hardbound with a lovely cover and endpapers, Dance of the Womb is packed with full color, detailed, step-by-step instructional photographs leading the reader through a “belly dance for birth” journey.
Dance of the Womb is divided into several segments. The first section summarizes the benefits of belly dance and explores the physiology of birth. The next section walks the reader through a series of gentle warm-up exercises while the following sections progress through a variety of different specific belly dance movements. Nearing the conclusion of the text is a segment about labor movements with positions. Each section of the book is lavishly illustrated with very clear, easy to follow, step-by-step photographs.
The author’s own journey through pregnancy, birth, and mothering is skillfully interwoven throughout the text as well as her own feminine passage into understanding herself as a complete woman. Interspersed with the photographs and belly dance instructions, is the exploration of the author’s pregnancy and birth experiences, her relationship with her own mother and her parents’ culture. The book contains her personal birth stories as well as perspectives on belly dance for birth from three midwives.
The author, Maha Al Musa lives in Australia. Her interest in Middle Eastern Dance was sparked by her Palestinian/Lebanese roots and birthplace as well as her pilgrimage to explore her heritage and reconnect with her long-separated mother. Maha has also developed a Dance of the Womb step-by-step instructional belly dancing DVD (sold separately, review to follow) that includes a video of her own homebirth journey with her third child. She is also developing a one day foundation course in “bellydancebirth” for birth professionals with a plan to go international in 2011.
Dance of the Womb is a great introduction to not just the basic physical elements of prenatal belly dance, but also to the spiritual aspects of giving birth and life as a woman. It is written with an intimate tone that makes the reader feel as if the author has reached out across the miles to form a direct, personal connection. This book feels like a rich treasure to hold and is a gentle, nurturing, encouraging, and enriching voyage for pregnant women or the people who serve them.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.