I once ran a half marathon… without training.
My husband had originally signed up for the Sydney event but was called away at short notice. So, I decided that rather than waste the registration fee, I would run (in his name).
At the time I was cycling regularly and getting to the gym most days and so I quite naïvely thought that I was prepared to run 21km regardless of the fact that I’d spent a long time avoiding running apart from the odd quick morning dash to the bus stop! As any runner knows, it’s a high impact physical activity. Serious regard to footwear, diet, hydration, a good warm up and an idea of the route helps! Me? I approached the day with a “what will be, will be”, “take it as it comes” attitude. In short, I planned to “wing it”. All I wanted was to cross the finish line.
I ran the halfie and completed it. It really hurt both mentally and physically. After the first 3km and the initial adrenaline and excitement of running among thousands of others had subsided, I was on the rocks ( in The Rocks, ironically). I still had 18km to go.
Very early on my feet hurt. I was breathing heavily and felt sick from not eating a good breakfast or fuelling my body correctly in the days leading up to the event. I was hot and every kilometre seemed endless. Very quickly it became a mental game; my body really wasn’t prepared for the experience. My reasonable fitness levels didn’t convert to running and my hips and knees were in shock! I gave myself short goals to complete and kept reminding myself of the bragging rights when Aidan returned home which I found motivating. Irritatingly I had the song “Eye Of The Tiger” on repeat in my mind! It must have been my subconscious speaking to me as I hate that song.
Eventually I completed the run. I was crying as I limped across the finish line from physical pain and sheer relief. I don’t mind saying that I found the whole thing torturous and my body wasn’t the same for a couple of weeks. I haven’t run since, apart from quick dashes hot on the tail of a curious and spirited 3 year old adventurer.
I believe that there is a comparison to be drawn between preparing for a marathon and optimum preparation for birth, both being demanding events requiring physical and mental stamina. There are those who choose a ‘wait and see’, “what will be, will be” approach, relinquishing any direction they have over their preparation for birth. For some this approach works fine and as with all things birth related, our decisions are very personal. However, for plenty, this is a high risk approach with birth disappointment, increased interventions & a negative, disempowered birth experiences the final result. The subsequent birthing ‘horror’ stories become an unfortunate side effect and so the cycle of fear and negativity continues as sisters and friends inevitably share these frightening and sometimes traumatic experiences. A healthy baby and a healthy Mum should be the baseline of our expectations when it’s comes to birth, not the ultimate indicator of a positive birthing experience for all.
Preparing for birth is not about controlling the experience,we can’t. Birth is primal and instinctive yet sometimes there are particular circumstances that are absolutely beyond our control or simply unforeseen. Hypnobirthing is about being educated about the birth process, understanding the choices we have about our care during pregnancy and birth, as well as being physically and emotionally prepared for one of life’s most momentous events. It’s about taking RESPONSIBILITY for ourselves and our babies and working proactively with our care providers, truly owning our experience. The Hypnobirthing Australia course prepares women and their birth partners for their best birth, however it unfolds. It empowers couples with practical tools and knowledge. Hypnobirthing couples attend classes from around 20 weeks and are given the education, tools and techniques to prepare for a birth that is positive, calm and empowering for all. Women then spend the remainder of their pregnancy practicing these techniques, reinforcing the positive messages about birth and our innate ability to birth our beautiful babies, calmly meeting whatever turn the big day (or night!) may take. However the experience unfolds, Hypnobirthing couples know that they have given themselves and most importantly their baby, the optimum chance for the best possible outcomes.