Giving birth is like an olympic marathon

“Women who give birth are at their strongest and most vulnerable selves at the same time. But every woman who has given birth know that we are stronger than we think.”

Marci Macari

Is labour really like running a marathon? Studies from the University of Michigan show that the tear and wear induced during labour are equal in magnitude to injuries sustained during top athlete level marathons.

As a women about to give birth, you were created to handle this labour as instinctively as your heart beats or your hand pulls back from a hot stove.

Meanwhile the forces at play during delivery are enormous, as they will support the passage of the baby’s head through relatively narrow hips. Compared to other mammals, humans have both a larger head at birth and a closer birthing canal.

During a marathon the runners are carried by their leg-muscles through to the finishing line. During labour the magic muscle to take the birth through to the finishing line is the uterus-read more about this muscle here.

A labour always includes extremely hard work and is sometimes very challenging. But how this affects women can be very individual, and one important factor is how long the delivery takes. Read more about how women experience prolonged labour here.

Just as runners can hit the wall and have to stop, a delivery can also hit a wall and stop. This is called prolonged labour, or dystocia. This conditions still mystifies midwives and doctors. Read more here.