Breathing is essentialMuscles need oxygen! That is probably more obvious for runners than for those in labor. The uterus is a broad muscle, contracting regularly in labor, pushing the baby down while helping the cervix dilate. Deep breathing also reduces anxiety! The pain is temporary The vast majority of pain in labor is caused by uterine contractions, not the baby passing through the birth canal. Labor contractions last about 60 seconds and are followed by minutes of rest and relaxation. It can be helpful to know that both individual contractions and the process as a whole will not go on forever! Find your rhythm, stay steady. Don’t start out too fast! When running a marathon, the excitement and adrenaline can lead you to do too much too soon. Similarly, in childbirth you are in it for the long haul, and early on your focus should be on conserving energy. Contractions should become ritualistic and having coping strategies is essential. Some people need music, others mantras. You can practice many different coping strategies ahead of time so you’re comfortable on game day. Stress can slow you down Oxytocin is the our love and trust and bonding hormone. It is released when we feel safe and relaxed. Oxytocin causes the uterine contractions of labor. Fear and stress diminish the amount of oxytocin produced in the body in turn slowing down or stalling your labor. There will be moments of self-doubt Because it ain’t easy. And endorphin production is on a slight delay. But, you can do it! Support can make a huge difference It’s always a good idea to have people cheering you on. No one can “run this race” for you, but people by your side can make it more possible. It’s worth it For Inspiration: Sarah Moore, Founder of FigTree Childbirth Services and Doula extraordinaire ran her first New York City Marathon last year, She wrote the names of 26 clients/friends/mentors on her arms so she could look down and thing of each of them and the power they were able to muster when things got hard.
Ashley Brichter is a Certified Cooperative Childbirth Educator, Certified Lactation Counselor, Birth and Postpartum Doula in New York City.
Get help now from a pelvic floor therapist.