A parallel is often drawn between giving birth and running a marathon. There was a great article called “The Gift of Leaping” in the most recent issue of the International Journal of Childbirth Education (available to download as a pdf here) that was based on this theme.
In it, the author discusses how in both experiences your mind’s strength can be called upon to surpass your physical strength and she notes, “The pain of accomplishment is so much easier than pain endured.” I loved that!
She goes on to share: “I want that feeling of going beyond what you think is possible for laboring women. If you let go of control and allow the process to unfold, you are so proud of yourself. Then pride morphs into self-confidence and trust. What a perfect combination for parenting. When it comes down to it, you have to do this by yourself, be it labor or running. You might hear other laboring women around you or have the support of crowds in a race, but it’s still up to you. there’s a start and a finish and only you can see it through. Fortitude brings a new self-awareness and strength that feels overwhelming…I know one of my greatest challenges in the vocation of perinatal education is getting women to trust the process and her own capabilities before labor. My practice runs helped prepare me for the marathon, but there is no practice run for labor. Women must rely on their confidence and the legacy of the many women who have birthed before them…”
I share her feelings about her greatest challenge. The whole point of my birth classes is for the participants to develop confidence and trust in their ability to give birth naturally. It is difficult to share what birth is really like–it is a singular experience (each birth is different too, so even if you’ve done it before, there are still surprises ahead!) I also feel like it is irreplaceable to start off the parenting journey with a overwhelming sense of power, pride, and capability–a sense that often comes with the “I did it!” of giving birth!