Science Backs It Up: Pregnancy and Labour as Challenging as Endurance Sports

Science Backs It Up: Pregnancy and Labour as Challenging as Endurance Sports

We previously talked about how pregnancy and childbirth can be as tough as endurance sports, but did you know that there’s actual science to back it up? In this blog, we’ll dive into the research that supports this comparison and explore how you can use this knowledge to prepare for the amazing journey of pregnancy and childbirth. And how pregnant women are basically endurance athletes.

The Research:
Comparing Pregnancy, Labour, and Endurance Sports

Numerous studies have looked into the physiological changes that occur during pregnancy, labour, and endurance sports. These studies have found several similarities between the experiences, further emphasising the incredible physical and mental strength required for each. Here are a few key research findings:

  1. Cardiovascular adaptations: A study by Boelens et al. (2005) found that the cardiovascular system undergoes significant alterations during early human pregnancy, similar to those seen in endurance athletes. These changes include increased cardiac output and systemic vascular resistance. Link
  2. Benefits of prenatal exercise: Clapp et al. (2000) demonstrated that regular exercise during pregnancy leads to improved cardiovascular function and more efficient delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the fetus. This research highlights the importance of staying active during pregnancy, just as endurance athletes must maintain their fitness levels. Link
  3. Mental resilience: Both pregnancy and endurance sports require mental toughness to cope with the physical and emotional challenges. Ten Hoope-Bender et al. (2016) underscore the importance of proper prenatal care, including education and support from healthcare professionals, in ensuring a healthy pregnancy and birth experience. Link
  4. High-altitude adaptations: Dekker and Mendelson (2014) compared the physiological adaptations to pregnancy with those of endurance athletes at high altitude. This review highlights the similarities between the two conditions, emphasizing the incredible resilience of pregnant women. Link
  5. Chemopreventive effects of maternal exercise: Szumilewicz et al. (2012) suggested that maternal exercise may have a chemopreventive effect in the fetoplacental unit, further emphasizing the importance of physical activity during pregnancy. Link

Using Science to Prepare for Pregnancy and Childbirth

Now that we’ve seen the science supporting the idea that pregnancy and labor are as tough as endurance sports, let’s look at how you can use this knowledge to prepare for your own journey:

  1. Stay active: Engage in regular, moderate-intensity exercise during pregnancy. This will not only help you maintain your strength and endurance but also benefit your growing baby.
  2. Focus on nutrition: Just like endurance athletes, you need to consume a balanced diet rich in nutrients to support your body and your baby’s growth during pregnancy.
  3. Embrace mental resilience: Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or visualization to help you cope with the physical and emotional challenges of pregnancy and childbirth.
  4. Build your support system: Surround yourself with people who understand the challenges of pregnancy and childbirth, and lean on them for support and guidance.
  5. Learn from the experts: Attend prenatal classes or read books on pregnancy and childbirth to better understand the process and gain confidence as you approach the big day.
  6. Stay hydrated: Maintain proper hydration during pregnancy and labor to support your overall well-being. Consider prenatal electrolyte drinks, like ISOMUM, to help maintain a proper balance of electrolytes (be sure to check with your healthcare provider first).
  7. Listen to your body: As you journey through pregnancy and labor, be attentive to your body’s signals. If something doesn’t feel right or if you have concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider for guidance.

Get in Touch With Your Inner Athlete

The science is clear: pregnancy and childbirth truly are as challenging as endurance sports. But just as athletes train and prepare for their races, you can equip yourself with the knowledge and tools to tackle this incredible journey. Embrace the strength and resilience that you possess as a mama-to-be, and remember that with the right preparation and support, you can face the challenges of pregnancy and childbirth head-on.
So, gear up for the adventure of a lifetime and get ready to welcome your little one into the world!