Can You Plan to Continue Surfing During pregnancy?
A Firsthand Account of Trimester One
To be honest, I was scared when I saw those two lines appear on the stick. I am not just a casual surfer. I have surf goals, I surf daily, I work with coaches, I travel all over the world to surf. What would nine months of having my body hijacked by a tiny human plus another year of breastfeeding and then another several years of constant child care mean for my career as a surfer? Would there be any surfing during pregnancy? What about after?
Does Parenthood Have to Change Everything?
Surf trips, multiple sessions per day, surfing on my own schedule…does all this have to change?
Let me back up. I am 35. I never wanted kids. I wanted adventure, travel and freedom. I am very grateful I did not have kids earlier in life. I ran around the world chasing my adventures, romances and big waves. And then one day something switched. I had my fill. Well, not quite my fill, I still want more adventure and big waves. But I was craving a stable long term partner, a permanent address and enough stability in my living situation that I could own a blender and a comfortable mattress.
Suddenly life wasn’t so much about what I could accomplish, but what I could experience in this moment. What greater experience could I have than motherhood? Almost as soon as the switch flipped I found a great partner and suddenly baby fever hit hard.
I’m sure motherhood will be worth it. But I have no way of knowing. Stepping forward into the unknown is always scary and always good.
Not Gonna Lie, I’m Freaking Out a Bit!
My partner and I talked about it, he agreed it would be wonderful and so we went for it. That very same month my period was late. And I freaked out. One of my first thoughts was this means no Mentawais trip with Still Stoked next fall! This means no charging big waves this year! This means having to get child care every time I want to paddle out for the next several years! Is this really what I want?????
To some who have always wanted to be moms this sounds very selfish, and it is. But it is also the honest truth and I think a lot of first time moms worry they will have to give up the things they love. Yes, very scary indeed. But I thrive on fear. Things will be different that is certain, I’m sure motherhood will be worth it. But I have no way of knowing. Stepping forward into the unknown is always scary and always good.
Surf Trips with Groms
We plan to travel and continue surfing with our grom. Having a baby doesn’t have to mean buying a house, getting married and working a 9-5. It can be whatever you want it to be. That being said, I haven’t done it yet so maybe all the moms out there are rolling their eyes at me right now. The next couple of years will be interesting for sure.
What to Expect: Surfing During the First Trimester
Currently, I am just finishing my first trimester. And for those of you wondering if you will be doing any surfing during pregnancy, the answer for the first trimester is maybe. Normally I am committed to my surf sessions. I live only 100 steps from Rocky Point on Oahu’s North Shore. But I’ve only been surfing about once per week during this trimester. The main reasons: nausea and fatigue.
Every pregnancy is different. Let’s not forget Bethany Hamilton surfed Teahupoo and Pipeline during her first trimester!
When You Always Want to Vomit
Plenty of times I look at the waves and they just looked too strenuous for my current energy level. I wanted to want to surf, but I could not bring myself to do it. Add to this fatigue the feeling of needing to vomit, my 24/7 companion, and surfing just didn’t have the appeal it normally does.
My partner heads out for his daily two or three-hour surf sessions. I always want to join him so badly. But most of the time I can’t motivate myself. One day, it had been over a week since my last session, I knew I needed to get in the water for my mental health. (Hormones are a bitch!) My partner and I paddled out together. After a couple of waves he looked over at me to see me hanging over the edge of my surfboard vomiting in the water. Apparently surfing during pregnancy, at least the first trimester, wasn’t going to be a whole lot of fun for me.
Nausea occurs in about 75% of pregnancies. You might be in the lucky 25%! Honestly, it has been awful. Moms will tell you, “Oh it will pass.” Which is true but they never tell you how absolutely horrible it is when you are in the thick of it. I feel it’s only fair that I clue you in. For 75% of you, you are going to feel like you have the flu for a couple of months straight. It sucks, a lot! I am just reaching the 12 week point and starting to feel slightly better. My energy seems to be improving as well. We are just reaching the peak of the winter surf season so hopefully, next trimester will be better.
Nausea tips that (sorta) work for me
- Eating all the time
- Eating whatever sounds appealing and throwing away all guilt. (I’m living on pizza, french fries and Taco Bell, yuck! But hey, if it helps me feel better I’ll take it!)
- Drinking club soda
- Meditation and deep breathing
- Getting plenty of protein. (I’m pescatarian but the thought of fish and eggs makes me want to puke. A couple of times I had chicken and felt much better for it. I’m not saying you should compromise your values but do what it takes for your sanity.)
Fear is also a consideration for surfing during pregnancy. Recently I was having a relatively good day. I took my big gun out on a big day at Sunset Beach. I think most of the apprehension I felt came from the fact that I’ve been injured all year and haven’t surfed anything that big in ages. But also there was a small voice in the back of my head saying, “What if you get held under and black out? Would that hurt the baby?” Probably this is the voice of reason that has been strangely missing in me historically. It is this lack of inhibition which has allowed me to push past my comfort zone in dangerous situations. It is also how I ended up injured.
Will the daredevil streak in me change now that I’m going to be a mother? Possibly, but I’m okay with that. I want be a mom more than I want to be a big wave surfer. It’s a tradeoff and the choice is clear to me. As long as I can keep surfing, I don’t need to be surfing 40-foot waves, although I hope I will still want to. I didn’t always feel this way and trust me, I would not be having this child if I wasn’t prepared to give up what once was the most important thing in my life.
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A picture from the last swell 🥰 I never thought I could still surf being 8 months pregnant but somehow I still can!! I feel so fortunate that I'm still able to surf. have a feeling that I will still be able to surf until the END haha. This day I went surfing with my friend @shannonreporting and my only goal was to get one … THE ONE I waited very patiently until this one came to me and this was the only wave I rode that day. My baby already loves surfing so much, especially Sunset beach when is biggy. How do I know this? Because surfing good waves has been my only craving during this pregnancy ( I know it sounds crazy) I don’t have any other craving besides oceanic cravings. All baby want a to do is float, swim, surf or get barreled … ❤️ 📸 @surfhaleiwa
Then again, Polly Ralda was just spotted surfing Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach in massive swell while eight months pregnant. So let me be clear, each woman and each pregnancy is different.
So if you are considering getting pregnant and how it will affect your surfing I hope this has shed a little light on the subject. Stay tuned for my next update from the second trimester. I will also continue to share my experiences postpartum and beyond.
Cover photo via Santosha Surf @Smythe_Photo