distance running & birthing babies

yesterday i received an email from the bank of america chicago marathon people telling me i’d won an entry into the 2014 marathon. i ran my first marathon in 2012- here’s my version of a race report from that day:


i began running in 2010 after we moved back from the UK and after the birth of my 4th child, zoe. i always thought i’d be quite a good runner. i’m tall with long, lanky limbs. but i’m also lazy and so getting out there proved the challenge. i pushed through my laziness and learned to love it, especially the long runs, particularly the long runs early in the morning in the dark where i’d run for 3 hours and see other distance runners with the same look of determination/disgust/anguish on their faces, desperate for their watches to alert them they’d run far enough. around this time i began actively apprenticing with a homebirth midwife (MY homebirth midwife from my 2nd birth). during prenatal visits we would often use the analogy that labor is like running a marathon. i agreed with this until i actually ran a marathon. while it’s true that labor requires energy (in the form of food/nutrition/hydration) much like a marathon or endurance race, i’ve come to believe that the marathon training is actually the important part of the comparison. if you are strong and healthy, if you’ve fed and nourished your body and your spirit, if you’ve mentally prepared by pushing yourself with one more mile, one more squat, one more repetition, when the time comes to surrender you are physically and mentally able to do so. distance running is a mind game, more mental in many ways than physical. and labor is also a mind game. with both you must surrender to what your body is experiencing in order to finish. for the lucky few, that surrender will come after a few short hours. usually this is the case with a mom who has a baby lined up perfectly, adequate contractions and a spacious pelvis (power, passenger, pelvis). for the rest of us, it can take hours and hours (read: days) of work to get the baby in a “favorable” position and to have strong enough contractions to open that cervix. if this is your labor and your underlying health isn’t so great, you’re going to be “hitting that wall” hard and early.  and most importantly- on the other side, your exhausted, under-trained body will require lots of extra help to maintain stability.  now, it doesn’t matter so much after a race if i heal quickly, but after giving birth it matters! in fact, next to your baby breathing, it’s what concerns me most. this is true for all moms but particularly for those having babies close together. 

sure, you could probably run 26.2 miles without training. you can also have a baby with absolutely no preparation. but if you’re planning to birth at home, you and your husband have a tremendous responsibility to each other and to your baby to not just make it through your labor but to thrive on the other side.

so, am i running chicago this year, or not?




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s