Childbirth Is A Serious Athletic Event, Says Science, Confirming What People Who Have Actually Given Birth Have Known All Along
If you have ever experienced labor and delivery, what I am about to say may feel very validating — new research shows that childbirth is an athletic event on par with intense athletes. Again, if you've ever given birth or been in the same room as someone while they have, this likely isn't much of a surprise. But it certainly goes a long way toward helping others understand the extreme physicality involved in, oh, you know, bringing a tiny human into the world. Plus, it helps mothers better understand the need for and the proper approach to the recovery process.
Before I go any further, I feel I would be remiss not to include a disclosure here. If you have not yet had any children but you plan to (and you plan to give birth to said future offspring), you won't fully love the findings we're about to discuss. OK, so you probably won't love them at all. They may make you want to rethink the whole thing altogether. But the truth is that giving birth is both a highly rewarding and a highly unique experience — just because I felt like I was sh*tting a fiery watermelon doesn't mean you won't whip and nae nae your way through labor. Having said that, let's delve into what science just confirmed about the athleticism of giving birth and the potential for injury involved.
In a study of around 60 pregnant women, researchers from the University of Michigan found that those women not only experienced injuries during birth that were similar to injuries suffered by intense athletes, but also that those injuries are often treated incorrectly and/or do not heal properly. Most of the injuries these scientists discovered — which they accomplished with MRI scans — were related to the musculoskeletal system and were of a far greater magnitude than experts previously believed. Here's the rundown of the type of childbirth-related injuries they logged.
1. Bone Fractures And Fluid
Of the women studied, a quarter had fluid in their pubic bone marrow or, worse, fractures likened to the stress fractures athletes sometimes suffer as a result of sports injuries. Yes, women's pelvic bones can fracture during childbirth. That sounds about right to this mama of big babies — my two "little ones" were eight pounds, 10 ounces and nine pounds, seven ounces.
2. Excess Muscle Fluid
Have you ever had a muscle strain so bad you felt like someone was repeatedly punching you at the site of the sprain? Well, 66 percent of the women in this study had excess fluid in their muscles akin to a severe muscle strain. This essentially proves that giving birth feels a lot like being punched in the vajayjay repeatedly.
3. Muscle Tears
Forty-one percent of the women suffered pelvic muscle tears, whereby the muscle detached partially or fully from the pelvic bone. On the plus side, you can pretty much rest assured you've found true love if your partner is willing to fetch you numbing spray and ice diapers for weeks on end — and, what's more, watch you ever-so-carefully waddle around the house wearing nothing but that ice diaper, enormous granny panties, and a nursing bra. True story.
4. Injuries That Don't Heal
So, here's some not so great news: 15 percent of the women studied experienced pelvic injuries that just didn't seem to heal. However, here's some not so bad news: the women in this study were already at a higher risk for long-term pelvic injuries. Also, if your pelvic pain persists after childbirth even with all those Kegel exercises your doctor recommended, you aren't relegated to a life of pelvic discomfort. The scientists assure that most childbirth-related injuries heal up in less than a year.