Are You Fit for Labor

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Even if you are planning to get an epidural during birth, labor is natural hard work. Are you fit to squat, rock, sway, dance, and bounce your baby out?

Take the longest, toughest, sweatiest fitness routine you'v ever done, then make it longer, sweatier and more painful times ten, and you have labor. Birth will be the most intense, strenuous workout in a pregnant woman's entire life!

If you should decide to run a marathon in 9 months, you should not expect your body to automatically run and race well if you haven't practiced and trained for the event. Why should we view birth any differently?

So many women think they will labor a baby into the world by just signing up for the lovely drugs, sucking their ice chips and sailing right through it. Get a good epidural, and that's basically what might happen. However, if you don't choose pain medication, or if the epidural only takes on one side, being fit and in good shape will prepare you for those scenarios.

Women who have little endurance, stamina and strength are likely to progress through the stages of labor more slowly. If you are physically able to squat, walk, bounce on the birthing ball, and slow-dance with your partner for hours on end, your birth will go much faster. You will feel empowered by the birthing process, not weakened by it.

If you do plan on getting an epidural, keep in mind that you have to make it to a certain point in your labor (5-6 cm dilated) before the anesthesiologist will put that needle in your back. The first tme around delivering a baby, getting to that point can take hours or even days! You can shorten that time by being in good shape.

If you become exhausted and unable to be actively involved in your labor, your risk of a C-section immediately increases. For more information about how to prevent unnecessary C-sections, go to

Epidurals do not make labor a complete cake-walk. They still call it labor even when you get the nice drugs, because it's still a LOT of WORK. Your uterus is a big muscle, and contractions involve your whole body. This is why you need to knowledgeable about natural birth even if you're planning to use drugs. You need to be ready to walk, sway, squat, pull on a rope, stand up and sit down over and over again. You need to practice lots of birth positions and perhaps hire a personal trainer who can develop your strength around those positions.

Visualize yourself in labor and train toward that. You can enter labor with a sense of fear or a sense of courage. You can avoid your labor or you can engage in it. Do everything possible to birth with strength and confidence. Then when you hold your newborn baby for the first time, you will be amazed at the new life you hold and the most beautiful evidence of your biggest fitness accomplishment ever!


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Bethany Learn