So apparently childbirth is going to be an Olympic Sport by 2024!!!!! (Whaaaaa???”)
So get this, professional “child-bearers” from around the world who qualify will compete for gold, silver or bronze in childbirth. They will be judged on their efficiency, strength, endurance, ability to birth without intervention, presence of multiples, speed of delivery, extent of perineal injuries, length of recovery period, Apgar scores, and of course maternal survival rates.
Ok, so I’m totally kidding. (Gotcha for a second though, huh?)
Childbirth is not and will never be an Olympic sport. (Thank God.) It is not some sort of competition where the winner gets gold (although sadly, many of us women do constantly compare ourselves to other women or rate our experiences against some arbitrary “ideal”). Instead of focusing on how we stack up against others, we should aim for our PB – personal best – in childbirth.
So even though childbirth is not a professional sport, there are many reasons why we should prepare for it as if it is. As a professional athlete, you’d never go out onto the field without training first, right? Even if you were just opting for a quick game of pick-up whatever, you’d do do a little warm up first, wouldn’t you?
The reality is that childbirth is hard work – and for a lot of women, it is the most physical thing they will ever do! That’s why they call labour labour. I believe wholeheartedly that our bodies innately “know” what to do when it comes to child birth. But things still go “wrong”. I mean, this ain’t the Garden of Eden no more. Our modern environment that is full of stress, is completely sedentary, lacks optimal nutrition, and worse, still promotes horrible birth practices known to increase the rates of pelvic floor injury. With those odds against us, we need to prepare our bodies. We need to remind our bodies that it can birth a child and do it well while remaining intact afterwards.
So quickly, here are 5 things you can do to proactively train for the physical aspects of childbirth (notice, I didn’t even mention the mental or emotional aspects of preparation which is also extremely important.)
- Develop physical strength and endurance from the inside out (including your pelvic floor and inner core).
- Keep your pelvis, hips, and low back, mobile, flexible, and supple
- Learn how to breathe, move and be best positioned for labour and childbirth – and practice it beforehand!
- Practice balance and symmetry of your body (ie. optimal alignment) every.single.day. It will help position the baby correctly.
- See a pelvic floor physio well BEFORE you have that baby. You’ll be blown away by how much you learn!
Now I’m not promising that you will have the “perfect” birth just because you do all five of these things. When it comes to pregnancy or childbirth, there is always that x-factor of things that can happen which are truly beyond your control. But remember, we’re not aiming for perfection (whatever that is…). We’re aiming for your PB. And we know that women who go into childbirth in excellent physical condition and armed with evidence based knowledge will have:
- less perineal injury
- faster recovery
- less need for medical intervention
- shorter labours
- less childbirth induced trauma
- better outcomes with post partum mood disorders
So if you’re a woman who is pregnant or trying to get pregnant consider yourself in basic training and aim for a personal best in your main event (ie. bringing a baby into the world).
We’d love to help you get your body functioning well for birth. If you want to go in strong and come out still strong, register for our Preparing Your Pelvic Floor For Childbirth Workshop coming up this fall.
It will be some of the best childbirth preparation that you do.