Taking a Marathon Mindset into Labour

In my last blog, ‘An Active Woman’s Guide to Coping with an Inactive Pregnancy’, I wrote about how much I have struggled as an active woman to come to terms with not being able to fulfil the active pregnancy I had hoped for and imagined. I have struggled to write very much at all during my pregnancy, because as a ‘fitness blogger’ (for want of a better term!) I did not feel like I had a huge amount to say now I spend my lockdown days stuck inside.

I have been focusing for months on all the things my body could not do. It could not run, or cycle. With lockdown restrictions it could not swim. Some days it could not walk, put shoes on, or even get out of a chair unaided. A great big list of things this body of mine could no longer do. Now, as my due date has sailed past and my cervix remains on lock-down this seems to be another thing to add to the list… I cannot even ripen my cervix!

But at one of my  midwife appointments, she said something to me that stopped me in my tracks:

“I find the women I look after in labour who have ran marathons – or other things like that – always seem to cope really well. I think because they’re used to dealing with discomfort and pushing on”

Amidst focusing on all the physical strength, fitness and mobility I could not bring to labour, I had not for a moment considered the mental strength all those years of training have given me. The enormous toolkit I have to draw on. The number of times I have achieved something I did not think was possible through sheer determination.

This Zwischen… the ‘in-between’ days.. this time of waiting is like those weeks and days before the marathon. There is no more that can be done physically: you simply have to trust in your body that she knows what to do. But it is a time of mental preparation. The swollen, gravid, teary woman is no different to the endurance athlete.

I sit here remembering the moment I ran the final stretch of the London Marathon. The elation, the endorphins! It was the final stretch I remember the most – not the finish line – because this was the moment I knew my legs were simply going to take me there, and there was no way I would not soon be crossing that line.

I just smiled, laughed, and let them take me there.

I couldn’t have done it without the physical training, but it was my mental strength that got me across the line. The self-belief, the positive affirmations, the visualisations. The toolkit I bring to birth is exactly the same – a body that knows what it is doing (even if it has never done it before), and a mind that believes I can.

I can’t wait to experience that surge of elation again, with my partner at my side, and the biggest gift of all waiting to meet us at the finish line.

As a first time Mum labour is taking a huge leap into the unknown of what I can achieve. But as a marathoner, I know I’ve got this.

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