Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Natural Childbirth vs. Marathon Running

Many sources have compared Natural Childbirth (No pain meds or interventions) to running a marathon.  Since I have run four marathons, I have been trying to draw some comparisons.  So in my attempt to convince myself that yes, I have the strength and experience for this endeavor, here goes:

1.  Long and Painful.
Marathons are shorter that typical labor.  5 hours for a marathon vs. 9-14+ hours for a typical labor.  However, in marathons you have to run (or walk) the whole time.  In between labor contractions, I get to relax on the bed and have my husband massage me.  My husband thinks I'm insane for running marathons and thus will not give me this kind of treatment after my races.  Score for labor!

2. Pain Relief
Do you ever see marathoners take drugs?  Well, yes.  Yes, I do.  And that marathoner would be me.  Now, by drugs, I mean two tablets of Tylenol which actually help my legs immensely.  I view Tylenol as a pretty safe medication.  Truth is, I don't think Tylenol is going help with the labor contractions so that's a non-option.  Epidurals are known to slow down labor and sometimes not even work.  Also, sometimes to get a baby in the correct position for birth, the mom may need to change her own position or move in someway - things that are impossible to do if one is numb from the waist down.  My mom had all C-sections.  My grandma had all C-sections.  I had one C-section and I do not want another.  I need to stop thinking that I am genetically predisposed to having a c-section.  It is time to break the cycle and get this baby out without cutting me open.  I'm going to do everything possible to make that a reality.

3.  Recovery
"You won't be able to sit down comfortably for a while after delivery"  This is actually what a doctor who was trying to get me to have another c-section said to me.  Sure, I may walk like I just got off a horse for a few days but anyone who has run a marathon knows about chaffing.  After each marathon, I walk funny for a few days too.  After my very first 20 miler, I went back home and cried on the couch from pain for a good hour.  But I went out the next weekend and ran another 20-miler.  It's not about the pain, its if the pain is worth it.

4. Endorphin rush
From what I hear, both a marathon and natural childbirth are equal in this way.  As soon as baby is out, mom's pain is gone and she gets a huge rush of endorphins.  My friends who have gone through this say they felt incredibly happy and euphoric.  I get this.  As I cross the finish line of a marathon, a huge rush of emotion and euphoria envelops me.  I cry a little bit at finish lines because I am so happy.  At the c-section birth of my daughter, I didn't get this rush.  I was numb and in my brain I knew I was supposed to be euphoric but the hormones just weren't there.  I also had post-partum depression and it took 6 weeks before I felt like normal Jo again.

I'm also getting my placenta encapsulated this time to prevent this, but that is for another post...


  1. I don't have kids yet and even though I did 3 marathons, the child birth thing still freaks me out. I hope all goes well for you!

  2. I bleieve that a healthy diet and good physical fitness will help you with all kinds of pain and even reduce labour pain

    How do I know? well lets just say my wife is a very sporty person and I have had a few kids. ;)