I spend a lot of time with women in visits talking about their overall health, nutrition, and exercise- and how important all three are in terms of healthy pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and lactation. What I see is that women who keep their bodies healthy inside and out tend to have smoother, healthier pregnancies and postpartum recoveries.
However, in terms of the labor, it’s hard to prepare for what it will be like. Being healthier gives you more stamina and strength, but it doesn’t mean you will get an easier, faster, or more straightforward labor. A lot of that depends on babies, their position and readiness to be born. It also depends on your bones, your genetics, your mindset about pain and labor, how much support you have, or how safe you feel.
Still, when it’s hard (and labor is generally hard work, hence the term ‘labor’), a fit and healthy person withstands that intensity biochemically, mentally, and emotionally quite beautifully. In pregnancy, it doesn’t hurt to approach the preparation for labor a bit like preparing for an athletic event, as you will need the physical, mental, and emotional fortitude that it brings.
So I thought I would share this link to a blog written by an elite marathoner, Kara Goucher, on her adventures as a new parent and her answer to the question: “Which one is harder- a marathon or labor?”: http://karagoucher.competitor.com/2010/10/01/labor-definitely-labor/