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.
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. Is this interesting. 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 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.
The Institute of Psychology at Jagiellonian University lead researcher, 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? Check out Prepare To Push™ - a program designed to get your mind and body ready for the big day!