Giving Birth is Like Running a Marathon, maybe 5 or 6 Marathons!
Birth is a very physically and emotionally demanding event and just like we would train for a marathon, we need to train for birth!
We've all heard the saying that giving birth is like running a marathon. Really it is like running 4-6 marathons and unfortunately birth is not looked at like an event that needs to be trained for.
Mind and body need to be prepared for the big day and also for the recovery. Pre and post natal fitness are imperative.
Researchers from the Institute of Psychology at Jagiellonian University studied how marathon runners felt after they crossed the finish line and found striking similarities to childbirth.
Runners train for months, if not years, to prepare for the big race and to cross the finish line no matter what. Well, training your body to go through the birthing process should be considered in the same way, but we – as women- often think of birth as a natural process that simply happens on its own.
True, birth happens on its own but how we prepare for it makes all the difference. Someone who hasn’t trained well wouldn’t do well in a marathon. Her body wouldn’t be able to keep up with the physical demand and injuries would occur. The same simple concept occurs with birth. Without physical preparation we would not be able to keep up with the substantial demands that the birthing process puts on the body.
Birthing, like marathons, is unpredictable. You may have a birth plan but it is also important to be ready for the unknown and unexpected. In a marathon, you rarely run the entire race before the day of the event and with giving birth – there is no rehearsal! The best thing is to prepare so you have a healthy and happy time right to the finish line and beyond!
The lead researcher at the Institute of Psychology at Jagiellonian University, Przemyslaw Babel, surveyed 62 marathon finishers who ran the Cracovia Marathon in Poland. Babel asked them to rate the intensity of pain they experienced, the unpleasantness they felt, and the positive and negative emotions they were going through at the moment. Three to six months later, he asked them the same questions, and a majority underestimated the pain they first reported. One runner, for instance, reported a pain intensity at 5.5 out of a 7-point scale, but six months later recalled a 3.2 level of pain.
The pain memory they recalled later on remained high if they also reported feeling negative emotions, such as distress and fear. From a psychological standpoint, memories of pain are exacerbated if pain was the focus of the experience because it was influenced by the context of a runner’s emotions. The same is applied to women in labor. Isn’t this interesting!
Preparing your body for birth and going through the experience for the first time or as a second or third pregnancy, all impacts not only the perception of pain we have as women- but how our bodies actually respond to the physical demands of the birthing process and our very own perceptions, fears, etc.!
Are you ready for your birth marathon?
Having a supportive team is very important. Someone who can support you and help you during the months leading up to labour and delivery. You don’t need a lot of people but you do want the right people! And just like an actual marathon - the right trainer/training.
We’ve Got You!
You want the best plan when training for your birthing marathon. That could be birthing programs, creating your birthing team and we are here to help. Fill out the form below/in the sidebar to speak with one of our Pelvic Floor Professionals and get clarity on all the options available to you.