POLE DANCING AND PREGNANCY
A strange title you may say, and indeed if you are not a pole dancing enthusiast the idea of a pregnant pole-dancer may seem almost laughable. You may visualize a heavily pregnant lady, with swollen ankles, waddling rather than gyrating around a pole. However for many of us this has become a reality!
There are many styles of pole dancing and we don’t have to be talking about the sexy style here; we could be athletic, we could be theatrical, but the general image is the same…a lady with a bump working the pole; be it on her feet or upside down. Why has this become a reality? And if you are from a non-pole dancing background you may be scratching your head wondering where this reality has come from! In order to answer these questions and plenty more I would like to share my experiences in pregnancy with you. Please remember that these are my experiences and do not represent the whole of the pregnant population!
I am a pole dance instructor, and I run my own school and studio. My school is only small and therefore it is only myself teaching classes; I had one student whom had been trained up and qualified to teach but my turn over did not allow for the employment of anyone else. At the time I had 3 children and a partner in the armed services, working away often. As many of you would appreciate, working full time with kids on your own is hard work, a real juggling act!
I had been pole dancing for several years and Instructing the majority of these. When my partner first suggested the idea of another child my heart plummeted. Not because I don’t like children, but because we have had a few difficult and negative experiences previously, with 2 Miscarriages and 1 Ectopic pregnancy. My doctors and midwives had assured me that it was unlikely pole dancing had been the cause of my miscarriages; however having experienced 3 healthy pregnancies prior to my pole career I was dubious.
I fell pregnant in 2012 during training for my video entry to the UK Professional Pole Championships (UKPPC). I had been training hard and felt amazing, both physically and mentally. My routine was almost complete and I felt happy with how it was all coming together. I made the decision to stop the intensive training and submit the routine immediately using the choreography I had completed and with a ‘rough’ freestyle ending. You can see this video on http://www.paganspole.com/videos
During the early days of this pregnancy I was on edge constantly, worrying about how much I should do, and if what I was doing would cause any damage. I also felt stressed that the tricks I had worked so hard to achieve would be lost forever if I couldn’t practice
them regularly. I chatted to my midwife who assured me that I could continue poling; however she advised with my medical history that I should quit any high impact or strenuous abdominal work. Pole dancing involves quite a lot of abdominal work, but I reduced this to a minimum where possible. Cutting out the impact exercises became necessary almost immediately…pregnancy and jumping jacks can only lead to one thing in my opinion…that is the need to stack up on Tena ladies and to carry clean underwear! I continued to teach as I normally would, even performing at a Halloween event.
As time progressed I began to accept that this pregnancy was going to go full term, and therefore I needed to address my teaching techniques. I am a very descriptive instructor, and will demonstrate and explain hand positioning, body movements, twists, turns etc before I allow my students to try a move. I soon realized that this was my strength and began to use verbal and visual explanations as much as possible, using a full physical demonstration only when completely necessary.
As my body began to change and my center of gravity altered certain moves became increasingly difficult. My arms began to ache having to hold the extra weight, my knees couldn’t tuck up to my chest as the bump was in the way, something as simple as a crucifix became awkward due to the belly! However throughout all of this I felt comfortable on the pole, it was and still is the one piece of equipment I feel totally safe on.
At 4/5 months pregnant I restricted myself from doing any strenuous abdominal moves, such as shoulder mounts. At 6 months pregnant I restricted myself from doing any handspring type moves, as I struggled to hold my growing weight. The whole time I was listening to my body. If something felt uncomfortable I stopped. If something felt unsafe I stopped. My growing size did not stop me from poling altogether; infact I enjoyed the challenge! The inverts and spins that I felt confident and comfortable in I continued to perform. Not because I had to, because I wanted to!
I continued to teach until I was 37 weeks pregnant. My Substitute Instructor was prepared and waiting to take over my classes but I just didn’t want to hand them over, I may have been waddling but I felt great! I was also concerned that financially my business would struggle to pay her wages; pay my bills and the studio outgoings. This was a very real stressor and did influence the duration of my maternity leave.
Throughout my pregnancy my midwife took a huge interest in my activities; she approved and praised me for my continued pole activity; she was also amazed when I showed her the image that went viral and caused quite a stir in the pole dance world, taking a copy of it to show her midwife colleagues! It was this image that has persuaded me to write this article, as once it had gone viral throughout Facebook I found myself inundated with messages from pregnant pole dancers across the globe, requested advice, information and tips. I found myself being praised and saluted by some, whilst I received much negativity from others. I found myself continually uttering the same words: ‘I am not qualified to advise you, all I will say is listen to your body’. This is the sentiment I continue to say today. I may be qualified to teach pole, I may be a qualified fitness instructor; but I am not trained to instruct pregnant ladies and I am no midwife or doctor. Infact when my students have fallen pregnant I have advised the majority of them to stop pole dancing; the exception being those who have danced and exercised all their lives or are extremely experienced in pole.
Pregnancy is a gift; a real joy, and each precious bump ought to be cared for and nurtured. This does not mean we wrap ourselves up in cotton wool and refrain from any activity that may cause harm as even negotiating stairs can be dangerous. However there is no need to push boundaries; know your limits; know your body. If you feel tired try and do as little as possible; if something hurts don’t do it; if you are struggling ask some-one else for assistance or refrain.
Pole dancing to a pole enthusiast is more than just an exercise regime. It is more than a livelihood. It becomes a way of life, a habit, a hobby, a love. This is the reason why more pregnant women are now seen on poles . They are continuing to pursue their passion. I just hope each and everyone remembers to pole safe and only do what feels right for them.
My own experience led to the birth of my beautiful full term baby boy, and gave me a pregnancy that is full of fond memories.