Natural Birth

Natural birth like running a marathon..?

I keep reading and hearing this phrase.  The closest thing I've ever done to running a marathon is an hour spin class and this pregnancy I have been SO beyond tired, out of breath and achy from the beginning.  How on earth is my body going to be prepared for something that is similar to running a marathon when I can't stand for 5 minutes without feeling like I need to sit and rest.  This thought goes through my head every time I have to take a break from doing laundry or cleaning the kitchen.
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Re: Natural birth like running a marathon..?

  • I'm on my third baby, but my first natural born (I had pain meds with the other 2). I am also exhausted all the time (and I'm only 7 weeks) and I remember being 8-9 months before and barely being able to move. However, contractions are PAINFUL and I think the adrenaline and endorphins that will no doubt flood our bodies when labor begins will make it much different for us and give us energy and stamina that we didn't have up until then.

    Or I could be full of crap - I know nothing about this haha. My last two were delivered in pain-free, epidural-induced-buzz bliss.

  • I don't know... I don't think they are similiar physically. I mean yes childbirth is really tiring but there is no way I could run more than a couple of miles. The only comparison I can think of is in preparation. You wouldn't go out and run a marathon without training extensively for it. Just like natural childbirth, I wouldn't recommend going in thinking.. I am just going to wing it because my body knows how to do this. You should read books on the different stages, look into relaxation techniques, diet and exercise.
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  • I did an Ironman triathlon (which includes a marathon) about a year before getting pregnant with DD, and I compare that experience to labor all the time. But not in the physical sense.

    Here is why I think labor is like an endurance event:

    - Preparation! Some people can just show up at the start line of a marathon with zero preparation and still finish. Some people can go into labor with zero preparation and make it through with no medication. But most people will be far more successful with either experience if they do some preparation.

    One key difference: Preparation for a marathon is maybe 90% physical (running!, cross training, strength training, etc.), 10% mental. Preparation for labor is 90% mental (learning about different phases of labor, visualization, getting on the same page with your birth partner, etc.), 10% physical (exercises like squats, kegels, etc.)

    - Support and coaching. About midway through the marathon part of my Ironman, I was feeling really nauseous. I knew if I couldn't eat, I wouldn't be able to finish. My coach encouraged me to drink some Coke (they have it at every aid station, probably for this reason Wink) and that settled my stomach and helped me get some food down, and that gave me the energy to keep going. During labor, the support and coaching from DH and my doula were what helped me keep going when I doubted whether I could.

    - Both Ironman and labor were about turning my mind off, as much as possible, and just letting my body do its thing. And being amazed at the reuslts Smile

    I hope that makes sense. I'm not sure if that's what other people mean by that phrase, but it's what *I* mean by it.

    Mommy to DD1 (June 2007), DS (January 2010), DD2 (July 2012), and The Next One (EDD 3/31/2015)

  • IMO it's not really like running a marathon.  You can't spend your whole third trimester lounging around like a beached whale (um, not that I did that ) and then successfully run a marathon.  You can, however, spend your third trimester being a beached whale and then still push out a kid.  The thing to remember about labor is that it is a normal and involuntary physiological process.  It doesn't matter if you are tired, it will just keep going, just like how your food still gets digested when you are tired and your heart still beats and everything else. The nice thing is you can rest between contractions and your body gives you adrenaline boosts to keep you going.  So you don't have to worry about going more than 5 minutes without a chance to sit down and rest because contractions only last about a minute and then you get a little break.  I spent most of my homebirth resting on the side of the inflatable pool.  I sipped some apple juice between contractions to help keep my energy up too.  No running was involved. :)
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  • I don't think its anything like running a marathon.  I have had three babies and ran one 7 mile race...last year on my sons 4th birthday.  The whole race I kept thinking I would rather be in labor.  
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  • Agreeing with a PP that NB is like a marathon or other endurance event because of the preparation, not the actual physical exertion. After taking our NB class, MH was amazed at how similar the breathing, thought and visualization techniques were to those he uses in his mountaineering training. 

    One unfortunate way where marathons and natural birthing differ is that if you tell someone you're training for a marathon they are usually encouraging and interested and would never imply that you are crazy for attempting something difficult, painful and taxing on your body. Because that would be rude.

     


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  • I recently compared birth to a marathon in this way:

    When you run a marathon, you do it all on your own, but in this huge crowd of people. You aren't the only one running the marathon, just like you aren't the only one giving birth.

    When you cross the finish line you have this connection with everyone else who crossed the finish line, too. You're part of a shared experience.

    I feel like when giving birth for the first time, I'm going to feel that way. When I get to the finish line I'm going to be a part of this shared experience of giving birth.

    Elkanah Brave, born 02/06/2012 7:26am
  • I've only done half marathons, but just as I can see how they care comparable from a mental sense, I agree with PP's that they are very different physically.  It's more the mental aspects, believing in yourself, pushing yourself, knowing that you've prepared for it, that it'll end soon and be worth it.
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  • I agree that it is more the mental aspect.  Here's how I compare it.  For a runner, running 1 mile is nothing, but to run a marathon, you must run 26.2 miles in a row.  For birth, 1 contraction isn't that bad...it is that you need to keep having them to get the baby out.  I used similar positive mental thought through both natural birth and running a marathon...things like "I'm doing a great job...I can keep doing this...I can definitely do this for another 20 minutes...Keep going..."  When you run, you take it one step at a time...when you labor, you take it one contraction at a time.
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  • I think the only marathon similarity is that they both require endurance. I'm average sized, but not really physically fit (I'm allergic to exercise...) and couldn't run a mile if my life depended on it. However,I did successfully have an all natural labor and delivery with DS that lasted 30 hours. I think, as pp said, marathons have more to do with physical prep, whereas labor has to do with mental prep. 
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  • image iris427:
    IMO it's not really like running a marathon.  You can't spend your whole third trimester lounging around like a beached whale (um, not that I did that ) and then successfully run a marathon.  You can, however, spend your third trimester being a beached whale and then still push out a kid.  The thing to remember about labor is that it is a normal and involuntary physiological process.  It doesn't matter if you are tired, it will just keep going, just like how your food still gets digested when you are tired and your heart still beats and everything else. The nice thing is you can rest between contractions and your body gives you adrenaline boosts to keep you going.  So you don't have to worry about going more than 5 minutes without a chance to sit down and rest because contractions only last about a minute and then you get a little break.  I spent most of my homebirth resting on the side of the inflatable pool.  I sipped some apple juice between contractions to help keep my energy up too.  No running was involved. :)

    This.  Oddly enough this was very liberating idea for me, sorta getting out of the mentality that "well if I don't do ALL my kegels, eat all my eggs, and don't exactly exercise as much as I should, I WILL fail at mile 8".

    Like I'm an active participant but I am NOT the driver in the process.  I can make the process suck more, but I can't completely ruin it either.

  • Your body was designed to give birth. Your body was not designed to run 26.2 miles in a single day but unfortunately, marathon running has become some standard by which people measure their fitness, strength and mental toughness.

    I used to be a runner but I've totally rethought my stance on running in general and prefer much less strenuous types of activities now.

    I prepared a lot for my first daughter (kegels, exercises, etc.) and had a difficult birth. I did next to nothing except chase a toddler with my second pregnancy and had a fast and easier birth.

    You're going to be fine ;-) 

      

    "If you find a mate in life, you should be loyal. In your case, grateful."
    SAHM to two sweet girls, both born at home; Baby #3 in 2013!
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  • My mother always compared it to running a marathon. It's different physically, but in you get that feeling of "working out." When you are done, there is that relief and happiness!
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  • I have heard it mainly as an analogy, as in, "Both of them are things many people think they cannot do; both are things that, with training, many of us can accomplish."

    As far as it requiring exactly the same things or being exactly like it? I don't think so. I know women who slept for part of labor. I know zero women who have slept through part of a marathon! You get breaks between contractions, but you don't get breaks during a marathon. You can snack to recharge a bit if your labor is long, but it's pretty hard to eat and run at the same time.

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  • Fear not.  I have delivered naturally twice, and the last time I ran a mile was in 8th grade PE when I had to.

    However, I do think the marathon analogy applies in the sense that it's not the best idea to just show up and wing it without any preparation.  Sure, some do deliver naturally with no preparation, but I think you will reap great rewards if you put in the time and effort during your pregnancy for exercises, nutrition, mental motivational prep, and relaxation techniques.  We used the Bradley Method, but I know there are other successful methods out there as well.

    Good Luck!

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  • I've done both and I've definitely used this comparison, but only in the mental approach.   I'm not a naturally gifted athlete, so getting through marathons takes a combination of careful preparation and training, stubbornness, determination, self-confidence, and outside support.  I needed all those same resources to have a natural birth.  During childbirth I knew how to reach deep into myself and find the strength to achieve my goals, because I'd done it for my marathons. It works both ways too, during my last half-marathon, I pushed myself through the last mile by thinking, I went through natural childbirth, I can do anything, I can do this!

    You don't need to run a marathon, but I totally recommend drawing on your own previous empowering experiences to motivate you!

  • You're body gives you lots of hints and clues as to what you need to do.  I finally got to go pain med free with DD3 and, even through all the complications I was having (pre-e which required mag sulfate, then I needed internal monitoring since she wouldn't stay on and when they broke my water there was merconium which required another internal hose type thing to spray in there and wash me out, ect) and it's amazing how my body pretty much took over and did what it needed to do =0) 
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  • image Aurora_Borealis:

    One unfortunate way where marathons and natural birthing differ is that if you tell someone you're training for a marathon they are usually encouraging and interested and would never imply that you are crazy for attempting something difficult, painful and taxing on your body. Because that would be rude.

    So, so, SO true.

    Mommy to DD1 (June 2007), DS (January 2010), DD2 (July 2012), and The Next One (EDD 3/31/2015)

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