Giving Birth is Pretty Much Like Running a Marathon

As a former labor and delivery nurse, I've often said that giving birth is one of the most athletic things you will ever do. 

I mean, think about it: even the pregnancy is like the ultimate endurance training — carrying around a whole extra person for nine months, learning to pick stuff up with your toes, and simply rolling over in bed — a feat that requires at least 10 minutes of preparation. It's physically tough to be pregnant, and then when you get to the main event and actually give birth …?

Well, if someone hasn't worn a FitBit during labor yet (and so far, no one has, because I totally just Googled it, and gosh darn it, I kind of wish I was pregnant now just so I could try it), then we need to get on that because I am dying to know how many calories giving birth actually burns. 

I obviously don't have any scientific proof behind this, but I do know that I've never been as hungry in my life as I have after giving birth. Honestly, all those healthy #whole30 people and #paleoforlife people need to understand the beauty of eating after such a physical feat of endurance as labor and birth to understand what appreciating food is all about. 

{ MORE: Hot, Tired, and Huge? Check Out These Tips for Surviving a 3rd-Trimester Summer }

But anyways, I digress. The point is, giving birth feels like the hardest workout of life, and now a new study is actually saying that, well, giving birth really can be compared to sports. 

pregnant
Image via Flickr/ adrianvfloyd

The study's findings, which come from the University of Michigan, said that “childbirth is as traumatic as many endurance sports,” according to a press release from the school. 

Specifically, the researchers looked at the injuries that can happen after childbirth and found that, surprisingly, the injuries that are caused solely by giving birth can be just as serious as those that happen from sports. The only difference is that birth injuries aren't diagnosed and therefore not treated adequately because doctors apparently aren't thinking that something so “natural” can cause such serious damage. 

Using MRI machines to study women, they found that show that up to 15% of women sustain pelvic injuries that don't heal. The pelvic injuries were actually similar to sports-related stress fractures and couldn't be healed by just Kegels alone since the injuries involved muscles actually tearing away from bones. 

The study's author stressed that their findings were based on women who were at high risk for injuries, so it doesn't necessarily mean that every woman who gives birth needs to get an MRI. What it does mean, however, is that if you have lingering problems or pain postpartum, you do deserve to speak to a qualified provider who will be willing to investigate further.

Birth may be “natural,” but that doesn't mean it's not hard, and it's time we gave women the time and attention to properly heal from birth. 

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Giving Birth is Pretty Much Like Running a Marathon

Chaunie Brusie is a writer, mom of four, and founder of The Stay Strong Mom, a community + gift box service for moms after loss. ... More

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2 comments

  1. Jennifer says:

    I wore my Fitbit when I was in labor in June, actually. I was in labor from 6/16-6/17 and gave birth at 7pm on 6/17. It says I burned 2800 calories on 6/17. I’m not sure how accurate the calorie burns are, but that was quite a bit more than other days previous. I did walk a lot that day (about 14.7k steps apparently), trying to get labor to progress, etc. However, looking back to a couple days where I walked equivalent amounts (or more) the previous week, I only burned about 2500 calories. Also, my heart rate was in the “fat burn” zone for almost 7 hours that day. Interesting!

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