‘My sportiness helped me have a natural, pain-free birth’

by Rachel Toal |
Published on

Natalie Lawrence, 28, a massage therapist and coach, lives in Bedfordshire with husband Lee and son Max, 12 months. She tells us about her natural, medication-free birth.

During my pregnancy I trained as a professional-level triathlete, even racing my bike until 32 weeks. But one thing played on my mind – the pain of labour. In sport, I have a high tolerance to physical pain, but the idea of being out of control in childbirth made me anxious.


My waters broke at midnight, 10 days before my due date. At 2am, I felt my first contractions. They didn’t hurt, but it felt like I had a stomach ache. I stayed relaxed, though the pressure in my bump stopped me from sleeping. As time went on, the sensations became more intense. By 10am the contractions were every five minutes.

I couldn’t believe how easy my labour was

I’m an active person and I wanted to keep moving, so we took a trip to the shops to get a car seat for the baby. My contractions were uncomfortable, but not painful. I couldn’t believe how easy my labour was. I’m used to endurance training and to blocking out pain. This felt a bit like one of my races!

‘Try and view this like a triathlon,’ she said. ‘You’re nearing the final hurdle.’

Back at home, my mucus plug became dislodged. I called the hospital and was told to come in. The longer I waited to give birth, the greater the risk of infection, they explained. The pressure in my bump was growing with each contraction. Lee drove me in at 10pm and I was given an internal examination. By 5am, I was 5cm dilated. My mum joined me and Lee on the ward. ‘Try and view this like a triathlon,’ she said. ‘You’re nearing the final hurdle.’

Around 8am, Lee ran me a bath. For the next hour I lay back in the warm water, feeling calm and relaxed. There was still no pain, only powerful, but manageable, pressure. Suddenly, a strong cramp swept over my stomach. I felt like I needed to go to the toilet urgently. Lee and Mum helped me out of the bath. As I sat on the loo, I realised the pressure I was feeling wasn’t just in my bottom. Instinctively, I reached down. To my surprise, I felt the baby’s head.


When the midwife examined me, she said, ‘My goodness, you’re going to have to start pushing!’ Like in my races, I gave it everything I’d got. I don’t recall pain, even during the final stage when the baby’s head was crowning.

After just a few big pushes, the head, then the body, slipped out. This was it, I’d given birth to a beautiful baby boy, Max, and with none of the pain I’d been terrified of. I’m convinced that my sporting background helped to shift my mindset and gave me a natural, pain-free birth.


Three things I’d tell my friends

  • Even if you’re not naturally sporty, try and imagine you’re in a circuit class or doing an exercise video during your labour. Remember, the discomfort is only temporary.

  • When you’re pregnant, try not to over-analyse what’s going to happen in labour. Let your body tell you what to do when the time comes.

  • Instead of screaming during each contraction, try to moan and groan like a man! You might feel silly at first, but making deep noises can really help with the pain.

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