Giving birth takes a bigger toll on your body than running a full marathon
No surprise there.
Birth is natural and normal, but it is also really, really hard on us. And the fact is that society needs to acknowledge that so mothers can get the support and time they need to heal.
In fact, science suggests that giving birth is harder on a person's body than running a marathon, and while athletes are resting and getting treatment for their injuries, too many mothers are trying to walk theirs off.
In a lot of ways, running a marathon and giving birth are very similar experiences. Researchers note that in both cases, we often forget how painful the event actually was, and in both cases our bodies are pushed to extremes.
But, as Mother.ly put it: Runners step up to the starting line well rested. When women step into the birthing suite, they're already exhausted.
According to Holly Dunsworth, an associate professor of anthropology at of the University of Rhode Island, mothers in the last weeks and months of pregnancy are "pushing right against the possible sustainable metabolic rates in humans."
"We max out toward the end of pregnancy," Dunsworth told the BBC. "Those last weeks and months of pregnancy are tiring." We are starting our race feeling as depleted as runners feel when theirs is over.
And when runners get hurt, they get help.
The problem? Mums often don't.
A 2015 study out of the University of Michigan found that as many as 25 percent of postpartum mothers have "fluid in the pubic bone marrow or sustained fractures similar to a sports-related stress fracture." Two-thirds of the women had injuries similar to a severe muscle strain. The research suggests up to 15 percent of mums sustain pelvic injuries that don't heal, and we're just walking around with them.
According to Janis Miller, the lead author on the study, when an athlete gets one of the these injuries, they end up in an MRI machine getting checked out. When a postpartum mum has the same issue, it's downplayed and often undiagnosed. This leaves women confused and concerned about their symptoms, and unchecked physical problems can put a strain on maternal mental health.
"We have this thing where we tell women, 'Well, you're six weeks postpartum and now we don't need to see you—you'll be fine.' But not all women feel fine after six weeks, and they aren't crazy," Miller said in a media release.
- Share article
- Read more about:
- New Mums,
- giving birth,
- postpartum care.