Last year I ran my first half marathon (13.1 miles). I had never run more than 6 miles, but 8 weeks after Ash was born and 12 weeks before the race, I signed up. I googled "half marathon training," picked out a schedule at random, bought some shoes, and hit the roads. A few weeks into training I was experiencing a lot of hip pain, but running hurts right? I pressed on. I lost 3 toe nails, nursed blisters, battled numb toes and endured persistent ankle, knee and hip pain. Race day came and 6 miles in I had shaved a full minute off each of my mile times, 7 miles in I realized I had made the novice mistake of not pacing myself properly. I was too low on energy to effectively take on the hill the stretched from 6.5-8 miles and had to walk.
My goal had been to run the whole thing and to finish in under 3 hours. I finished the race in 2 hours and 48 minutes. I should have just been happy with the end result, but I was unsatisfied with the experience and felt ill aftwards so I wasn't able to really celebrate with the other runners. No one told me it was essential you don't drink just water during the race and I was nauseated and dizzy. There were so many things I could have done to improve the experience and perhaps even the outcome if I had sought professional guidance before hand.
If I were a gazelle, this would have been no problem. Animals that are meant to run go from womb to ground ready to get their legs under them. A coach doesn't circle around giving tips, they just know. Just as soon as little ducklings crack through their eggs and dry they are ready to hit the water, mom is not lining anyone up for swimming lessons.
"Human beings are the only animals I could think of who drown when dropped in deep water; all other animals I know or could remember from my youth know how to swim, and do so immediately and perfectly when immersed.... Does that mean that we should curse our Creator because He apparently shortchanged us and "forgot" to give us this knowledge?" - Dr. Robert Bradley in Husband-Coached Childbirth
Animals are blessed with instincts to guide them and humans are expected to learn. I'm sure most of you picked up early in this post that my decision to train for my race myself was not going to go well. Well, then how is it that so many women walk into labor and delivery untrained for the event they are expected to complete? Is there any surprise that not long in they've slowed to a walk, experiencing challenges that a trained woman might have avoided, or are unable to reach the finish line on their own two feet and are having their baby pulled out with forceps or is being wheeled into the OR for a cesarean?
"God gave us a magnificent brain capable of abstract thinking, a high level of communicative ability, learning, retention, reasoning, and so forth.... a woman who doesn't know how to swim is given nine months' notice that she will be thrown in deep water. Let's assume that during that nine-month period she does not avail herself of classes where swimming is taught. This is as unreasonable as one who knows she is pregnant, does not know how to act in labor, and then during her nine months does not bother to attend classes in the conduct of labor. The results in both cases would be horrible to behold, particularly by someone who loves the participant." - Dr. Robert Bradley in Husband-Coached Childbirth
For my second half marathon I signed up for a 12 week training program. Under the guidance of skilled coaches I experienced fewer injuries, improved my performance, and I gained a toolbox full of solutions for common running challenges. I completed my second half marathon 13 weeks pregnant, improved my time by 20 minutes and felt GOOD afterwards. Honestly, it's amazing I finished my first race at all considering how uninformed I was! I can make a similar comparison with my first and second birth!
It's scary that something as important as giving birth is our responsibilty to learn, but we are well prepared for the task. Before birth moved to hospitals, women taught women to birth. Daughters grew up comfortable with the normal processes of labor, perhaps even attended the births of her siblings.
The fear of the unknown, of what happens behind those sterile doors, did not exist. She saw skilled women bring babies into the world safely and women working hard, perhaps experiencing pain, but she saw that women's bodies were capable (yes women died in childbirth, but not necessarily because they were at home or attended to by women).
"There is nothing more pleasurable to observe than an expert human swimmer frolicking in deep water. Similarly there is nothing more marvelous to behold than an expert, educated, trained human mother giving birth. - Dr. Robert Bradley in Husband-Coached Childbirth
I talk a lot about birth's design, and women educating women is apart of it! Imagine if we had all the confidence and understanding of a girl who grew up comfortable with birth only now we have antibiotics and clean water. We'd be unstoppable right?
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