Monday, March 23, 2015

Sport and pregnancy; surfer Bethany Hamilton
Bethany Hamilton PIC via SplashNews

The moral police are out again and I'm not talking global politics here. Surfer Bethany Hamilton has brought wrath down on her head because - wait for it - she's continuing to surf during her pregnancy.

Imagine that. A fit and healthy woman wanting to stay that way while pregnant - so avoiding obesity, gestational diabetes, easing back pain and decreasing the chances of post-natal depression. (that's the Mayo Clinic talking)

You'd think knowing Hamilton survived a shark attack at 13 and went onto become a successful surfer that people would give her some credit for understanding her own body. Mpora's surf editor wrote a guest post for this blog a while back on Hamilton's amazing journey.

But apparently the idea pregnacy is an illness and the only way to survive is by sitting down for nine months is still going strong. Hamilton has been forced to come out defending herself; pointing out she's not exactly taking on big waves,and has modifed her routines. 

One doctor told an American newspaper: "Surfers have a chance of falling in the water, and hitting big waves can cause trauma to the abdomen". 

Some poignant comments on pregnancy websites about the risk of miscarriage clearly came from tragic personal experience, possibly spilling over into judgements I thought. But then I haven't been in their shoes.

PIC VIA Bethany Hamilton Instagram
It's not been all negative coverage to be fair. A poll carried out for one of the UK papers found 75% of respondents agreed with Hamilton's decision with just one in four saying no.  

That's still quite a lot of nay-sayers I think - although it may reflect the level of inactivity in the country. Similarly to Ireland rates of obesity are shooting up in the UK and people who don't exercise are unlikely to understand the benefits of exercising while pregnant. 

Personally I wish I could stay up on a board for longer than 30 seconds even while not pregnant. 

Congratulations to Hamilton and husband Adam Dirks from this blog at least!

What's your thoughts - where's the balance or are there any rules when it comes to exercise and pregnancy?

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