by Avantika Bahl
How was your dance journey while you were pregnant? What precautions did you have to take?
I was lucky enough to be able to dance and teach during my pregnancy. While I had spells of being asked to stay on bed rest by my doctor, I was always able to get back to the studio. However, I did have a wonderful assistant with me who would demonstrate and also help me set the movement material of the class (other than helping me climb up and down the stairs when I got really big and could barely see my feet!)
As far as precautions are concerned, I made sure I listened to my body (and my doctor) and never did anything that I wasn’t supposed to – that was tough because it’s hard to not roll around or move freely as a dancer!
What would you say are some misconceptions about dancing during pregnancy?
Personally, the biggest misconception for me was that I thought I would be able to do everything that I usually could pre-pregnancy. As dancers we have such deep connections with our bodies, and a lot of that changed for me while I was pregnant. There were times that I literally had no control over my muscles and joints, and that would really throw me off. It took me a while to get used to the fact that I will have some good days and some not-so-great days!
How long after your child was born did you get back to dancing? What were some of the challenges you faced this time?
I started teaching four months postpartum at the height of the pandemic. Since classes had shifted online, I feel it was easier for me to teach from home. It helped me manage my son’s feeding schedules as I was nursing back then. However, I took a few more months before diving into intense movement classes because I didn’t feel ready to begin with something vigorous so soon.
The biggest challenge has been staying patient, and building my strength back progressively. I’m always amazed by the human body and muscle memory; I think the way the body rebuilds its strength back after a pause in training for whatever reasons is something to marvel at.
Did you have any stress/negative emotions because you couldn’t get back to dancing immediately? If yes, what steps did you take to address that?
I’m not sure I felt any negative emotions but there was certainly a great deal of anxiety around what my body would be capable of post my delivery. Lack of sleep coupled with a weakened core because of a cesarean delivery and other hormonal and anatomical shifts left me feeling very vulnerable. It has been a gradual journey uphill, but one that I would not replace because now my body feels like a home that has faced multiple weather conditions and is still standing strong.