Join me as I step into a world where the rhythmic pulses of dance merge seamlessly with the powerful moments of childbirth.
Kemeera Nimahat, a celebrated birth and postpartum doula based in Chicago, has revolutionized the birthing experience with her unique approach that intertwines traditional doula support with pre and postnatal dance instruction.
In this episode, Kemeera delves into the therapeutic and emotional benefits of dance during labor. She talks about how movement can be a form of pain management, easing tension and promoting relaxation during contractions.
Kemeera also emphasizes the deep connection between a mother's body and her baby, and how dance can be a tool to strengthen and celebrate this bond.
More from Kemeera Nimahat:
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Trish: [00:00:00] My name is Trish Ware and I am obsessed with all things pregnancy and birth and helping you to navigate with the practical and the magical seasons of this journey called motherhood. I'm an all day coffee sipping mama of seven. I've had the amazing privilege of delivering many babies in my 15 plus year career as a labor and delivery nurse and as a mama of seven.
I'm here to help you take the guesswork out of childbirth so you can make the choices that are right for you and your baby. Quick note, this podcast is for educational purposes only and does not replace your medical advice. Check out our full disclaimer at the bottom of the screen.
Hello, everyone. I am so excited about today's episode. I know I say that all the time, but today's [00:01:00] guest, it's Kamira, correct? I should have clarified that. I hate to pronounce people's names wrong. My daughter, her name is Sitara and we live in the South. And it's never pronounced correctly, but today's guest, Kamira, she does something so interesting.
So Kamira, welcome. I'm going to let you tell everyone what you do as you introduce yourself.
Kemeera: Wonderful. Hi. Hey everybody. Thank you for having me. I am Kamira and I am a birth and postpartum doula. I am from Chicago and that's where I currently reside as well. So I'm a birth and postpartum doula and also a pre and postnatal dance instructor.
And so I just love working with Mom during their pregnancy and afterwards using dance and movement to prepare the body for a better birth and then also for a better recovery as well. I love
Trish: that so much and I can't wait to pick your brain [00:02:00] because one of the things that I teach and my classes is about finding your rhythm during labor and also.
Just how powerful movement is. I've done so much research on that. And one of the studies that I read is that movement and gravity is as powerful to produce or as it produces as powerful contractions. If not more than Potosin. Wow. Isn't that crazy? And you know a doctor doesn't go, oh, let me get you up and moving.
No, they're like, let me increase your Potosin. So for those of you guys listening, your body is more powerful. Anyway, so can you tell us about your journey into becoming a doula or getting into the birth world? Sure.
Kemeera: Sure. So my route is interesting, and I'm going to [00:03:00] take it back to when I was 16 because that's like the milestone.
I really don't know what it was that sparked my interest in birth, but when I was in high school, I remember just being like, Oh my God. Women giving birth is like the most phenomenal, magical, highest thing ever that can be done on this planet. And I was just like obsessed. And I was watching all the YouTube videos, which there weren't that many at the time, and reading everything that I could and just like...
Trish: You're way younger than I am because YouTube was a thing when you were in high school. It was
Kemeera: a thing, yeah. But it wasn't what it is today, so I feel like I probably watched every video there was available at the time. And, I just thought it was so powerful, and that women's bodies were extremely powerful.
And also, let me say this too. I am one of ten. My mother and father have ten children. I'm the second oldest, in fact. I've been around birth and babies. When I was in high school, like I said, I don't know where this part [00:04:00] came from exactly, but it was there. And then I remember asking my mother if I could go to the hospital with her while she gave birth to my little sister, who was baby number seven.
And she told me yes. And I did. And, I was there observing, and I remember, she was in the bed laying on her back. I remember that she had all of her babies vaginally and naturally without epidurals, none of that. And I just remember her, them saying Don't push, Sharon, don't push.
And, it just was so surreal, honestly.
Trish: I want, so you said you're number what?
Kemeera: I'm the second oldest of ten.
Trish: What? An incredible... I'm just like I'm sorry. Like my brain, like I just am so wrapped up in what you're saying that I feel like I need to re absorb. I can't wait to listen to this myself because what a beautiful gift your mom gave all of you guys.
And I know my [00:05:00] kids, like my kids throughout their lives, cause I have seven. I don't know if you know that. But I. I feel like children in a big home, and I'm sure you have siblings that have probably felt one way or the other as well, and through and morphed, like it changes, at least for my children, it has, and my children, just a side note.
I've, I'm divorced and my children and I have gone through hell and back. So that has caused some things, but I think for my kids, they either are like, hell no, I'm not having kids or they want, or they do. But I think that coming from a big family, there's much of value and so many lessons and I'm just like Hanging on your words right now and like I'm such a visual learner, so like I'm picturing Your mom in bed having babies like, like I just [00:06:00] I like want to meet your mom
Yeah It's incredible honestly and just like you said There's so many lessons that I didn't know at the time, always, but, now having grown up and have, having had four of my own children, I just think to myself often I have no idea how she did this. No idea, and just being able to recognize the sacrifice and all the things.
And now that I'm in birth work, also thinking back and reflecting that. I saw, I came from a mother who had a big family, a mother who gave birth nationally to all 10 of her children, a mother who never had an epidural or any of the other things, a mother who breastfed, so these were norms for me and I recognize and realize that they are norms for a lot of other people.
And I'm very grateful for that. I really am. Like that's a big deal. It's
Trish: [00:07:00] a huge blessing. I'm the same. I came from a family. Now my mom did have vaginal deliveries and cesareans. My mom lost a baby before she had me and at birth. But I came from a home that normalized birth and it was just a natural thing.
And breastfeeding, you did it. It was just a natural thing. And so I feel very fortunate in that. And I try to tell my students and, when I do things a little different on Labor Nurse Mama because I don't, and I say this, I'm putting up quotes, I don't sell my birth courses all the time.
I don't promote them all the time because I give my students so much and you've been inside my membership. I give my girls a lot. I hang out with them. I spend, I coach them. I do the. Like private, like a lot of my students have my cell phone number, which is why I don't promote [00:08:00] all the time.
But I feel the same way, like this is something our bodies are supposed to do and it's. Me, it's labor nurses, it's doctors, it's hospitals, it's all the shit we do that makes it so medical that causes so many issues. And if we could just believe in the power of our bodies and not let our heads trip us up, I think a lot of the issues we have would go away.
And then when there are real things, then yes, you need me. You need me to intervene. Yes, you need the forceps. Yes, you need the vacuum. Yes, you'll need the cesarean. But that's when you need it. Not, you don't need it to give birth. You need it if there's an issue. 100
Kemeera: percent agree. And the mindset is just, it's so interesting.
Particularly as I've gotten [00:09:00] more into being on social media and sharing my content and things like that to Witness some of the rebuttals that I get to sex is just really interesting and to really see the true mindset that's important because my client, I attract a certain type of client. My clients don't need to be consent that their bodies are capable.
So I don't necessarily interact with women who You know, have bought into the opposite, so being on social media has really been eyeopening to me. I'm like, okay, we have a lot more work to do because, the fact, again, people are just rebutting because they just can't conceive of the idea that the system, the medical system, doesn't always do what's right and best for the mom.
And that should be appropriate that you cannot even fathom something like that being true. However, it's not the case,
Trish: and coming from a home like you did I [00:10:00] too, I feel like there's this book called Big Magic. I, growing up, I was going to be an artist. Like I love, I'm very creative.
I was going to be an artist. I got pregnant at 17 and my plans changed, right? So When I had my son, and I had the bug too, like I, I love birth, love pregnancy. So when I was like, oh my gosh, I'm gonna be a labor and delivery nurse and it's gonna be incredible. Like birth is amazing. And what I really was destined to be was a doula or a midwife, like a home birth midwife because I had no idea, and so when I became a labor and delivery nurse, I can't tell you I've Spent a lot of time crying and so frustrated because as a labor and delivery nurse I have to follow the orders like I've told my students Your nurse can only refuse if you refuse first like I have to follow the orders you know I ended up doing what [00:11:00] I'm doing now out of frustration like this birth culture and especially in the US has to change It has to, like we, it can't continue.
The fact that we have the maternal morbidity that we have, what the hell? It's ridiculous. And there, like there, there's a reason, and it's what we're doing. And I don't want that for my daughter. I know you don't. So anyway, we've gotten off on a whole nother tangent. Yeah. Yeah. That's what I like about this podcast.
You just never know. Yeah.
Kemeera: Yeah. Yeah, there's so much to talk about, right? We could be here for hours.
Trish: So let's talk about what you are doing specifically to change the birth culture, which is I love it because you came into our pregnancy and postpartum membership and taught a mama jama [00:12:00] dance workshop.
I remember when I first saw it, I saw it pop up. So for those of you guys who don't know, we have our birth classes and then we have our monthly. Membership, call Mama Society and we have weekly workshops and we invite birth experts, postpartum experts to come in and I saw this Mama Jamma workshop pop up and I was like, what is this?
So tell everyone what you do. Did you take dance classes, or is this just because I can't dance, we're the poo, I have no coordination at
Kemeera: all. Yes, so my whole story is crazy, but let me, I'll just pinpoint the start of this, which was awful, at the age of 16.
Trish: Oh shoot, I interrupted you, go back.
Go back, I want to hear it. I'm so terrible.
Kemeera: I saw my mother, I went to the hospital with my mother when she gave birth, when I was 16 years old, and then that just solidified something in me. And so [00:13:00] I went to college shortly after, and actually at the age of 16 is also when I started dancing, which is very late for anybody that's typically on the trajectory of having a professional career, very late.
But I was like, Oh, let's do dance instead of take gym, that sounds good. So I did that.
Trish: You're obviously talented to start that way. Yeah.
Kemeera: Yeah. Thank you. And so I started dancing at that time too. And my teacher at the time really saw something in me and she nurtured it in me and I went on to become a dance major in college.
And so for a while, I did my dance major thing, but in college. It's when my cousin had a baby, and then others started having babies, and I was in their space, invited into their space, to support them. I had no idea what a doula was. In fact, I remember being in my aunt's living room, and sitting with my cousin who was pregnant, and [00:14:00] pinching her arm, trying to like, help her with coping skills and stuff like that.
And just giving her affirmations and things like that. And I attended her birth when she gave birth, and again, no idea of what a doula is, but I don't know, apparently there was something in me that, had the interest and that other people saw enough to invite me into their space, and so I started doula ing unofficially before I knew what a doula was.
And life, life went in many different ways. So it wasn't something that I did regularly, just, when friends had babies or things like that. And from college is when post college is when I became a professional dancer. And yes, I do have a dance background and I started teaching dance and performing and things of that nature.
And If I have to be honest dance is my absolute first love, deepest passion. It's like breathing for me. I love it. [00:15:00] And I happened to dance and teach dance when I got pregnant with my first child. And so it wasn't like this thing Oh, let's dance during pregnancy. It wasn't that idea. It just happened to be that I was teaching dance and I still love to dance.
I was going to take dance classes, just regular, professional dance classes, pregnant, because I love to. And just over time, again, I have four children. Over time, with that repeated behavior of teaching dance and taking dance in pregnancy and then teaching dance in the postpartum period and just that repetition, I started to see oh, like this is a thing.
This helps. This is great. And now I teach pre and postnatal dance classes and incorporate it into my work with my clients. And yeah, that's what we do.
Trish: So do you have a studio in Chicago?
Kemeera: I don't. There was a period of time that I was renting a studio to have in person classes, and then I went virtual for all of my [00:16:00] classes, which is what they currently are now.
Trish: That's amazing. I love it. So do you have a particular labor class, like labor inducing class that you do?
Kemeera: Not exactly a class, but I do have different dance combinations, like I do have a labor dance and, I do have different types of dances and moves that are for particular things. But one thing that really surprised me was that Dancing for pregnancy and labor and stuff is absolutely not as popular as I thought it would have been.
When I started doing research and... I could find a handful of people and it just was not a known thing. I feel like it is becoming more popular now, but I was very surprised by that.
Trish: Yeah. Yeah. Because I, even as we're talking, I've done thousands of deliveries and I Women instinctively, like I can picture women on their hands and knees with their booty in the air, just [00:17:00] swaying it and finding that rhythm and, leaning against their partners, moaning and swaying those hips and moving and walking the halls and stopping during that contraction and finding it.
And for those of you guys who listening, I want you to stop and think of every time you've seen a person, male or female, who is given a crying baby. You find a rhythm. It's part of our natural instinct. We find a rhythm. If you stub your toe, I tell, during my labor classes, I tell them all the time, when we're in pain, we find rhythm.
It's our natural instinct. And I think what you're doing is just finding that primal rhythm. to deal with, to cope with pain. And so I think that it's amazing. Like it's a really valuable resource and our it's so maddening. I had a student that told me we did a gosh, [00:18:00] I can't remember if it was during one of my weekly coaching calls.
I think her doctor told her that the pelvis is fixed. It doesn't open. I was like what, no, your pelvis, yeah, they say whatever they want. And so I'm like, no, your pelvis is not fixed. And so when you think about the baby's skull, which is also not fixed and your pelvis is not fixed and you you're finding the rhythm through dance or whatever it is, then you're able to move these things to where it's not as difficult for either one of you.
Trish: Absolutely. I love that. I love what you're doing. I think it's amazing.
Kemeera: Thank you. I really enjoy it. And then also just even outside of the laboring space, just for exercise, Moms, pregnant moms, we know, Hey, we have to exercise, but first of all, we're freaking tired or, whatever we have all the [00:19:00] things.
And I know for me personally, I'm not going to the gym. I'm not doing a bunch of I'm not doing the traditional workouts and stuff, but you can get those same benefits and a much more fun way through dancing. And that's what I love. And then it's also really, it's much easier to me to incorporate the kids.
Just like I said, I have four and. We homeschool, and we're always around each other for the most part, if I can do activities that they can be a part of and that can still allow me to do the things that I need to do for myself, my body, my mind, all the things, then it's just better. And I, for me, dance has really been that outlet.
Trish: I love that so much. My last three that have been at home, my girls, we used to blast the music and we would have, we would be like dance party. But my eight year old is mom, it's cringe. Stop. And he tells me how awful I dance, which I don't have rhythm. But funny thing that you said that is back when I used [00:20:00] to go out dancing all the time when I was younger, I was in the best shape I've ever been in ever.
But. It, and the other thing is going back to labor and postpartum is that when you're doing something that's fun and feels good, it releases oxytocin. And so that's another benefit for both labor and postpartum because during postpartum ladies, and I, It's a difficult time of your life.
Like it's beautiful and I don't want to negate that, but it's also one of the most lonely. Yeah. Difficult. Yeah. Paths ever. So the more oxytocin, feel good hormone you can get, the better. Yes.
Kemeera: Agreed. Agreed. Yeah. So I
Trish: love that.
Kemeera: When things are more fun, we're more likely to do them when they don't feel like the chore.
We're more likely to do it, and [00:21:00] so as a mom that has so many different responsibilities for other people and for herself, I just really I'm a fan of low barrier to entry. Just move your body. Don't worry about the weight. And I'm not saying those things are bad. I'm not saying. those
things can actually be obstacles too. Moving your body and taking care of your
Trish: physical and having to get up, get in the car, this is, okay, so just confession here. I'm talking to myself. Get up, go to the car, drive to the gym, get out of the car, go into the gym. Come home, have to get a shower, get dressed, do my hair, go to, get into work, do all that.
That's two and a half hours. I've just lost two and a half hours of my day. And that's a lot when I've already am stressed out and overwhelmed. But another thing I love for [00:22:00] my postpartum mamas is that they can baby wear and do this.
Kemeera: Oh, my, students and clients they meet all of my children and I'm often seeing, because I wear my babies on my back in the traditional African way with fabric and I can teach a whole class with the baby on my back and midway through the class, he sleeps, it's like good for the baby to the rhythm and the movement and.
Yeah, like our babies need our attention. We give it to them and we can still have fun. And again, since our Health and needs as well. So I love it. I really do
Trish: I need to put this episode on YouTube and put some videos of you doing your dances Pregnant and with your babies on your back so they can see it.
I would love it So if you send me some emails, we'll put this on youtube. We don't always but we're starting to It may take me a minute, but now [00:23:00] I'm going to have to, cause I said it, but yeah, I love that so much, Kamira. And I love what you're doing. And I think that people just don't, it's hard to explain I, my team and I were just meeting like even with our membership, I've said this a lot lately cause I'm flabbergasted as a labor and delivery nurse, postpartum, labor and delivery nurses and postpartum nurses are like old.
Oil and water when a late, when a labor and delivery nurse gets floated to postpartum, we're like pulling our hair out. We're like, we like the thrill of labor and delivery. It's fast paced. And so I've not spent a lot of time doing postpartum except for my own and you and I both know. Your postpartum journey can be very isolating.
You don't get out of the house a lot. You don't spend a lot of time with other moms in that exact same period. And truth be told, we don't share a lot of what's going [00:24:00] on with the other moms in our real life. And so we opened up our membership. to include the postpartum aspect in October. And the main reason I did that is because I love my girls so much.
And we meet weekly with our pregnant mamas. We do a weekly coaching call. And so we're like, how can we keep them? We've missed them, because we really get to know them. And so we started meeting with them every other week doing a hangout with them. And so now we're doing it weekly because it has been so Powerful, but the reason I said that is it's really hard to explain to someone who doesn't know What their problem is gonna be it's hard to tell them ahead of time.
So No, like what you're doing. It's hard to explain that they need it if they don't know they need it. [00:25:00] So To explain the benefit of movement during labor is really hard if they haven't labored. It's really hard to explain the benefit of movement with a newborn if they haven't had to console a newborn, there's just a lot, there's a lot to it.
So I just keep trucking along. I think, just doing the things and I think that it, it will grow. And I think it would be incredible if you had an in person studio though.
Kemeera: I, there's ideas floating, of course there's many ideas and there's one me right now. So what's the priority of things?
But I really did love my in person classes, the connection, the community, all of that. It is. Not the same as being virtual. So I have considered that. And I actually do have some local offerings coming up this summer with some other birth pros and practitioners. I am.
Trish: amazing. [00:26:00] Yeah. I am.
And are you still doing the doula aspect of it? Because I get asked all the time about doulas all over. Every time I put up a question box, they, do you know a doula in this area or that area? And so I'll definitely add you to our list because we definitely get asked all the time and I usually send them to a doula.
We have some doula website that people can look on. But yeah, that would be incredible. So thank you so much for coming today. Thank you for having me.
Kemeera: I enjoyed the conversation.
Trish: Thank you. Yeah. It definitely took some twists and turns.
Kemeera: Yeah. Oh yeah.
Trish: Thank you so much for listening today. I hope you enjoyed this conversation I had with Kamira all about rhythm and movement and the natural process of [00:27:00] labor and postpartum. If you leave today with anything else, I hope you leave with the knowledge that your body is perfectly powerful. As always, hit subscribe and please take a moment to write a review and tell us how much you love the birth experience of Labor Nurse Mama.
I'll see you again next Friday. Bye for now.