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Your Birth Pain and Your Weight/Fitness? - Page 2

Poll Results: What is your size and was your birth painful?

  • 36% (39)
    I am thin/smaller and had a low-moderate pain birth.
  • 19% (21)
    I am thin/smaller and had a very painful birth.
  • 27% (29)
    I am larger/overweight/fluffy and had a low pain birth.
  • 11% (12)
    I am larger/overweight/fluffy and had a very painful birth.
  • 5% (6)
107 Total Votes  
post #21 of 49
Originally Posted by Collinsky View Post
Drs look at "average" sized pregnant women and see danger! stamped all over her... it must be even more exaggerated for a woman they also see stamped as "unhealthy" just based on her size. :
I agree.

Also, as much as it's worth anecdotally, my family history also refutes the MIL's argument.

Sister 1: severely overweight/obese, short (100% natural labours) (under 6 hours) with all three, her final labour lasting 2 hours total, baby born in an intact caul after 2 pushes. (sounds terrifying to me, but she swears up and down it wasn't that painful) She claims her pain was moderate, and this was flat-on-her-back hospital-style labour.

Sister 2- skinny/fit (she was a model and swam daily while expecting baby #1) Short (also natural) labours (baby #1- 5 hours, baby #2-induced, 2 hours total) but she describes them as excruciatingly painful. After baby #1, she desperately wanted an epidural for #2 but labour was way too quick. She refuses to have any more babies because she finds labour intensely painful.

Myself-definitely fluffy (cute term, BTW) Baby was stubbornly posterior. Labour was definitely manageable, then membranes ruptured and I needed the pool. The water took contractions from an 8/10 to a 4/10 until transition, which was rough but hip squeezes got me through it. Baby was pushed out in 'record time' according to midwife (first baby + posterior, I was sooo lucky to be pushing for less than an hour) and that night I was talking about having another.

I don't think weight alone has that much to do with it, fitness probably does but then again the key point is skinny doesn't automatically mean fit.
post #22 of 49
Originally Posted by fourlittlebirds View Post
I'd be interested to see the study, how it was done, and what the actual stats were.
"Exercising Through your Pregnancy" is the title of the book. Dr. Clapp is the author. TOTALLY fascinating read! But that could just be IMO, because I find exercise physiology as interesting as birth.

The exercising group also had a higher rate of spontanous labor & lower rates of other interventions, such as instrumental delivery.

Incidentally, I didn't vote in the poll. I don't consider myself thin or small, but I'm not overweight. Additionally, my birth was only painful for a relatively short period of time, (transition), but during that time it was very painful. So I don't characterize it as low or high pain...

Also, as another poster mentioned "Fit" & "Fat" are not necessarily opposites. It's entirely possible to be totally unfit + thin as well as fat + fit together.
post #23 of 49
Thread Starter 
But yes, Dr. Clapp's extensive research has shown that, on the whole, your MIL is right--> regular exercise does lead to shorter, easier labors.
Oh yes, I would believe that exercise could make birth easier. I just think she's thinking weight, not exercise level. Thanks, ladies!
post #24 of 49
I am very small and fit and had a moderately painful birth. I don't know if physique had anything to do with it though. I'm sure it helped though. I exercised, did yoga, and remained at my job (also physical) up until the very end.
post #25 of 49
Ok, I didn't read this whole thread... but wasn't there another thread not that long ago about mamas with extremely taut abs having difficult births because of positioning problems for the baby? Like, because their abs held the uterus in so much baby couldn't turn as well and as a result they experienced back labor? Obviously that could be an extreme case of fitness, but it seems useful in this case. Although, maybe extremely unfit abs makes baby hang out too far and makes positioning difficult as well?

I'll say this - I *was* more fit for my first labor (but not real thin, and no overly fit) and my first labor was easier and shorter, though I was induced with pit from nothing, than my second labor. I was much thinner for my second birth, but not nearly as fit... that is, I had less fat, but much less muscle, too.
post #26 of 49
Originally Posted by Juvysen View Post
mamas with extremely taut abs having difficult births because of positioning problems for the baby? Like, because their abs held the uterus in so much baby couldn't turn as well and as a result they experienced back labor?
Coddswallop! A friend of mine said the same thing (actually.. I think it was something about tight abs inhibiting pushing...)

A full term baby has very little wiggle room in the uterus of any mama anyway!

But the key thing here is that strong muscles are not necessarily very tight muscles! I have very strong biceps, but that doesn't mean they are so tight that I can't straighten my arm all the way.

(Putting on my fitness instructor hat here...)
Flexibility is defined as the "range of motion around a joint." The amount of free movement we have. Strength is defined as the total amount of force a muscle can generate. These 2 things don't necessarily work against one another. A person can have super-strong muscles & be super-flexible! Just look at gymnasts. (That's why I hate that dumb phrase, "Muscle-bound." Muscles don't "bind" us.)

Now, sometimes muscles CAN be tight enough to inhibit motion/ flexibility, but that's extremely rare in abs. This is more often seen as a result of a sedentary lifestyle, such as tight hip flexors & hamstrings from being seated all day & tight chest muscles from poor posture (shoulders slumped forward.)
The vast majority of mamas exercising through their pregnancy probably also have enough sense to stretch a bit.

And finally, Bradley training teaches that it is the exercises themselves ("Tilts & tucks" AKA yoga "cat/cow" pose) that help move baby into the right position.
post #27 of 49
I'm fat. My end weight with my last pregnancy was 285. Although, I stopped looking at the scale about a week before the birth.

My pregnancy when I was at my "thinnest" (260 end wieght) was scary and awful. I dont' remember if it hurt or not because of the stupid stadol. My second pregnancy (also end weight of 285) was intense but painless. Third birth hurt like heck but was 4 hours long and complication free. So I say it's piffle.

I do think general health can help with birth, but one can be fat and healthy. I'm fat because I overeat stuff like homemade beans and rice burritos and chicken stir fry, rather than Doritos and ice cream. And I am more active than the average American by a great deal.
post #28 of 49
ok, i put other because i had a pleasureable/ecstatic birth.

but, i don't think that had to do with my level of fitness. i had a very fit pregnancy with very little discomfort of any kind, except modest swelling towards the end if i got too hot (and it was august) that went away if i hydrated and rested in a cool place.

i think that i had a pleasurable/ecstatic birth for a number of reasons: 1. i believe this sort of birth is possible and could likely be the "natural" way that birth is; 2. i realized that, for me, a lot of what would bring on pain or a sense of pain were two things--a. the interpretation of intense sensation as pain and b. fear; 3. in order to overcome the issues of 2, i practiced yoga and got cranio sacral therapy which helped me learn to simply follow and experience my body without judgement. in turn, i believe that this preparatory work allowed me to have a pleasurable birth, in part because i was open to simply experiencing, which might have meant also experiencing a painful birth--which would turn pain into ecstacy.

it's tough to explain.

but anyway, the idea is this--pleasure and pain are descriptions that we place on an experience that we have. the experience is the experience. if you could measure experience in some way--say, intensity of contractions--you might discover that 200 women have the exact same intensity, but 200 women have 200 different descriptions of what or when things were painful or pleasurable at various times. what one woman calls 'easy' another calls 'hard.' what one calls pleasurable, another calls painful.

so, i wouldn't think about this at all. i think that anyone can hav e any kind of birth experience. in the end, it's just experience--and it teaches us one way or another. love your body, love your birth. it was yours. and forget about other people's stuff.
post #29 of 49
In your thread title you spoke about weight/fitness, and in your poll you asked about weight/size. I am petite in size, but am not "fit". I don't exercise, and definitely wouldn't consider myself to be "healthy" and/or "active". My birth was very painful
post #30 of 49
I think that the only conclusion that can be drawn from your MIL's comments is that people with easy births who have in-laws who have harder births should STFU.

Oh, and I'm overweight, but walked at least a mile a day including stairs throughout pregnancy and had a 43 hour labor counting from when I needed to cope with the pain (6/10 to 9/10) of contractions.
post #31 of 49
I am a size 4, 5' and I weighed 108 at the beginnning of each pregnancy. I jogged, lifted weights, and bicycled throughout my first two pregnancies. They were 27 and 9 hours respectively, both posterior, with the second one having a deflexed head and asynclitism. Both were very painful, but I had the stamina to get through the pain I think because of the endorphins my body made for me and I recovered very well.

The third I exercised not so much; I had two little ones to chase around and I went to a chiropractor more regularly. It was easy. Number four was easy also.

My midwife said that heavier women have looser tissues that have more give. Who knows?
post #32 of 49
I have watched a lot of women birth (in addition to having two of my own) and this simply does not hold water in my experience.
post #33 of 49
I was fluffy but I exercised a lot and ate a wonderful diet. Thin doesn't equal good diet/exercise. I'm fat because of decisions I made years ago. I think nutrition does have something to do with labor pain and exercise/endurance does have something to do with how well a women tolerates a long labor.
post #34 of 49
I would think that it doesn't have much to do with physical fitness. I would think that if a woman is obese, then she may tend to become exhausted more easily than a woman who is of reasonable weight. Labor is hard work on the body and mom has to work hard so that would seem true to me. Otherwise, I am an thin woman but I am not terribly active or athletic. I don't think there would be much difference in a labor I might have and a seriously athletic thin woman.

So, unless a woman is obese, I don't see it making a difference.

Now, that is refering to DIFICULTY. I would think that PAIN is about personal perception and tolerance level and possibly the babies position,etc.

By the way, your MIL is pretty obnoxious to say something like that to you anyway!!! Sheesh!!
post #35 of 49
Yeah, what a rude, simplistic thing to say!
I didn't vote in the poll, either, because like other posters I think size has little to do with it.
I do think fitness does help, especially if it is the kind that causes you to challenge yourself physically and mentally. I had in mind during my labor a 100 mile bike ride I had done in which there was 10 thousand feet of climbing. It helps discipline the mind and body to endure long physical/mental ordeals ... like labor.
I do think that pain tolerance plays a part, and that seems to vary by individual.
And, of course, circumstances of labor and birth like position of the baby etc.
There are many factors.
post #36 of 49
Originally Posted by Materfamilias View Post
I do think fitness does help, especially if it is the kind that causes you to challenge yourself physically and mentally. I had in mind during my labor a 100 mile bike ride I had done in which there was 10 thousand feet of climbing. It helps discipline the mind and body to endure long physical/mental ordeals ... like labor.
I think there is something to this. I've run off and on throughout adulthood, some of it in the Army where you aren't supposed to show that you are hurting. Some of it I had to do while injured. I think that this prepared me mentally for something that was very painful. The whole time, I just kept thinking about it like it was a long run.

I was of average weight before I got pregnant last time. I was not particularly fit (did not exercise during pregnancy). I would say that my birth was very painful, but I was just able to find something that worked for me to mentally deal with the pain. This isn't something that would necessarily work for everyone, though.

Your MIL is being rude.
post #37 of 49
I was fairly overweight last time I delivered and although the birth was somewhat painful, it wasn't so horrible. It was certainly quite a bit more painful than period cramps though!

I think your MIL is rude and ignorant to say what she said to you.
post #38 of 49
I was in amazing shape . . . competitive athlete, trim, solid, worked out through pregnancy. I did a no-drug birth. Thought I was going to DIE it was so painful! (though I'd do it again.)

My SIL hates working out, was extremely overweight, and also did a drug-free birth. All she felt were bad cramps.

Go figure.

But I will say my recovery time was very fast, and I lost all the baby weight after 2 months. So being in shape did count for something.
post #39 of 49
I am young and fit.

I had 3 days of active labor and pushed for close to 5 hours.

But, the only pain I would call excruciating had to do with her nuchal hand making my legs go numb (well, excruciatingly numb if that makes sense) and round ligament pain. The actual labor was entirely manageable and I look back to it with a romantic perception.

So, I guess on one hand you could say the theory doesn't apply to me. But, seeing as how I think the leg and RL pain were both due to previous sports injuries, you could say the theory does apply. Hmm.

I could offer up one conjecture....there was no way I could have pushed an 11lb baby down my birth canal for 5 hours if I was "not" that in shape. I also didn't eat at all from the beginning of my contractions to almost the next day after she was born.
post #40 of 49
I voted other - fluffy, one very painful birth and two low-moderate pain births.
I think it has far more to do with the baby's position, the mother's level of fear/relaxation, and pain tolerance than with weight.
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