When mom finds out there’s a bun in the oven, it is usually expected that she will limit her physical activity to low-impact activities. When a dedicated athlete becomes a mom, she may fiercely dismiss the limitations placed on her activities and defy expected results of all well-meaning advice givers.
Many medical professionals, seasoned moms, or concerned bystanders may freak out if a pregnant woman dares to participate in extreme sports while pregnant. However, women who know themselves, or didn’t realize that they successfully became pregnant, have managed to win gold medals while a few weeks to a few months along.
If this article isn’t enough to inspire an appreciation for how amazingly tough, powerful, and dedicated women can be, I don’t know what can. Really, I don’t. The amazing women athletes written about in this article have successfully displayed that a woman can hold the title of both professional athlete and mother-to-be, without sacrificing her performance, health, or personal choices.
Pregnant women have managed to participate in sports at the Olympic level, dominating their field of interest, and blowing records out of the water! Maybe because of the added positive side-effects of pregnancy, and knowing the baby is tagging along, this provides an extra boost of energy and raises the desire to win.
16 Alysia Montano: Pregnant Olympic Runner (Twice!)
In 2014, Alysia Montano caused jaws to drop, while waiting to drop her baby at nearly 9 months along. The reason? This serious athlete had planned to have a baby so she could still vie in the Olympics, but the baby had yet to arrive when it was time to compete.
Where other women may want to avoid running an 800-meter race, Montano was used to such a high amount of strenuous activity while pregnant, she performed at an elite level of prowess, that left spectators in awe and admiration.
If it wasn’t enough, Alysia Montano didn’t run as an Olympic competitor while pregnant only once. According to USA Today, Montano ran in 2017 while pregnant with yet another bun in the oven. No matter how far along the baby bump, this time 4 months pregnant, it was not going to slow this athlete down.
15 Shayna Richardson: Survived Skydiving Plunge
Most doctors recommend that pregnant women avoid high places, enjoy resting with their feet up, and not to risk falls. One woman named Shayna Richardson, who was unknowingly pregnant, had decided to catch some air and brave skydiving.
Yes, Shayna Richardson decided to go skydiving, while pregnant. Before you think to yourself, “OMG.” It gets even more interesting.
Shayna jumped out of the plane a first-time skydiver. Shayna’s boyfriend, an experienced skydiving instructor, was with Shayna as she made her 10,000-foot descent.
Instead of floating safely down to the ground with a fully open parachute, she instead began hurtling toward the Earth, because of a malfunction.
According to ABC News, Shayna was informed at the hospital, that she not only managed to narrowly escape but was 2 weeks pregnant.
Thankfully, both Shayna and her bundle of joy managed to survive the plunge.
14 Bethany Hamilton: Surfing At 6 Months
Bethany Hamilton is not a woman to back down. She survived a shark attack, and continued to be a champion surfer, even when pregnant.
Keeping active, motivated, and positive is so important for a woman when she is pregnant. And Bethany Hamilton was not one to discontinue surfing, even when going on 6 months. According to the Huffington Post, Bethany told a source, “It’s crazy, but I feel like I’ve done some of my best surfing prego!”
Although some expressed concern if the expert surfer were to get hurt while carving out on a wave, Bethany proved the world how strong and amazingly beautiful she is, inside and out.
And there must be something special about being a pregnant athlete and passing down the gift of sport. Bethany’s son Tobias, at a mere 6 months, was spotted trying to catch some hangtime on a board. Making mom proud!
13 Megan Leatherman: Crossfit Extraordinaire
Crossfit is pretty popular with many people, who are looking for an intense way to get fit and stay strong. Crossfit is a unique form of fitness which combines cardio, weightlifting, and gymnastics to get the body into top shape.
Even pregnancy is no significant reason for some dedicated athletes to tear away. One woman, Megan Leatherman, was so dedicated to Crossfit, that she was weightlifting two days before delivering her baby.
Two whole days. Whoa, right?
Most pregnant women are often told to lay off of the heavy lifting. There is a risk for the average woman while pregnant if she were to overextend herself with pumping iron.
According to the Daily Mail, while pregnant, Megan still maintained her intense workout regime.
Despite the baby bump, Megan was still executing deadlifts with 215 lb. weights.
Megan said, “It made [her] feel good and… pregnancy easier.”
12 Serena Williams: Pregnant Tennis Superstar
Serena Williams has been wowing spectators and grabbing the attention of many worldwide since both she and her sister Venus began playing professionally on the tennis court. Dominating the tennis world with numerous awards, and a strong tennis game, it’s no wonder that being a mom-to-be was just another milestone achievement.
According to The Insider, Serena Williams learned just days before she played in the Australian Open that she was pregnant. Thinking that she could never be pregnant, she decided to take a pregnancy test in jest to a friend’s joking.
At 8 weeks pregnant, superstar athlete Serena Williams not only took home the woman’s title at the Australian Open for the seventh time, but she did it all while having a bun in the oven.
Williams later gave birth to a beautiful and healthy baby girl on September 13, 2017, named Olympia.
11 Lisa Brown Miller: Hockey Champion And Surprise Mom
Many athletes are so wrapped up in their sport of choice, with their energy and focus spent on training hard, and playing to win gold. Lisa Brown-Miller is no different because she didn’t even realize she was pregnant when she was playing hockey in the Olympics!
Although hockey players don padding and helmets, the sport can be pretty rough and tumble at times. Any mother who is pregnant would definitely have some reason for concern for their unborn baby, in case someone got a little too close to the bump. A flying puck or a fall may present a whole other issue.
However, Miller and her team totally slayed on the ice.
Lisa took home a gold medal in hockey and got a lucky discovery that she competed in the Olympics while pregnant.
10 Amy Fraser Tackabury & Sara Cooper: Triathalon
Triathlons are one of the most intense ways for an athlete to test their physical stamina and capabilities. It is vital that an athlete train for a significant amount of time, and to know their body and limits.
Some would consider it unthinkable for a woman to power through the challenge of doing a triathlon. However, for two women, Amy Fraser Tackabury and Sara Cooper, having a baby bump was not a hindrance to competing.
Both women athletes enjoyed somewhat comfortable pregnancies and continued to run and train hard during their pregnancies. According to She Knows, Sara said that the baby bump felt like “a basketball bouncing on my bladder.”
Keeping hydrated, taking breaks, and knowing when to take it easier at certain parts of the triathlon, allowed both women to cement their status as powerful pregnant triathletes.
9 Meg Hendrix Robinson: Marathon Runner
Running while pregnant may seem like a no-no for some ladies. But for women who love to run, a baby bump is merely a bump in the road of track ahead. Maybe the baby bump gives athlete mamas more drive and determination to meet the challenges before them. No matter what, women are doing some amazing things, and have the medals to prove it.
Meg Hendrix Robinson is a mother of three and had been running for a long time. Women who are more conditioned from athletic activities, are typically in better shape to continue their regime, despite pregnancy.
Meg may have felt a little off at times, but according to She Knows, she managed to shave off 30 minutes from a previous run.
And she was running a marathon while 6 weeks pregnant. Baby bump power!
8 Kerri Walsh Jennings & Anita Spring: Olympic Volleyball
When playing volleyball, there can be some intense moments with spikes, bumps, and trying not to hit the ground too hard for a save. When pregnant, playing volleyball might be a sport to avoid, especially when rocking a serious baby bump.
Kerri Walsh Jennings, an Olympic gold-winning athlete, was playing at the 2012 London Olympics while 5 weeks pregnant. Like other career athletes, she had planned to have another baby before the games started. Kerri had previously given birth to two children before the upcoming games.
Sporting a six-pack, Kerri managed to take home yet another gold medal to add to her collection.
Anita Spring is another Olympic athlete who played volleyball while pregnant. According to Inside the Game, Anita may be the only Australian Olympian to compete while pregnant. She was 4 months along while playing in Atlanta in 1996.
7 Martina Valcepina: Speed Skater And Mom Of Twins!
When an athlete engages in short-track speed skating, it would make sense that they need to be light, fast, and able to react quickly. It helps for an athlete to always be at the top of their game to be successful. And perhaps because some athletes are so intensely focused on their goals, being pregnant is not a reason for them to slow down.
Italian short-track speed skater, Martina Valcepina wasn’t going to slow down, or stop skating.
As the athlete was competing in the 2010 Vancouver Games, according to Splinter News, Martina was pregnant with twins.
She was only one-month along, so there wasn’t a baby bump to interfere with her performance.
And to show that being pregnant and having kids doesn’t put a damper on a top athlete either, Martina went on to compete in the 2014 Sochi Olympics later.
6 Kristie Moore: Olympic Curling At 5 Months
Curling may look mild at first glance, but athletes can incur injury from impact, strains, or repetitive motions. Athletes have to have the stamina to physically answer the demands of curling, and also have fans they don’t want to disappoint.
Curling is a beloved sport that millions of people love to play, and there are even millions more who love to play spectator. Kristie Moore is a dedicated athlete. And even though she was nearly 6 months pregnant, she still managed to play in the Olympics.
If Kristie’s bundle of joy came out a natural born curler, there wouldn’t be any wonder why. When Moore got the call to be an alternate for Team Canada, according to The Seattle Times, the surprised athlete leaped at the chance. Teammates even rubbed her baby bump for luck. And as luck had it, Kristie took home a silver medal.
5 Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi: Malaysian Aiming High
During the London 2012 Olympics, Malaysian rile shooter, Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi amazed everyone when she competed while nearly 9 months pregnant. As the first woman to represent her homeland in shooting at the Olympics, Nur Suryani was definitely making headlines all around.
At 29 years of age, she was ranked 47th in the world and had previously won a gold medal in 2010 at the Commonwealth Games, according to The Telegraph. Although the dedicated athlete asked her baby not to kick before the competition, she ended up not being able to compete in the finals.
Nur Suryani made a valiant effort and displayed utmost professionalism as an athlete.
She, like many other pregnant Olympians, have helped show the world that being pregnant doesn’t stand in the way of athleticism and showmanship.
4 Dana Vollmer: International Swimmer
Swimming while pregnant probably isn’t that big of a thing, since baby is comfortably swimming along in mom’s womb. However, when it comes to participating in the Olympics, baring a baby bump while diving into the water can turn heads.
Olympian Dana Vollmer is not the only athlete to compete while pregnant. And she has shown like many other athletes before her, that staying active, and continuing to stay strong has its benefits for both baby and mom’s health. Staying in good condition and training throughout pregnancy makes a difference.
According to NBC Sports, seven-time Olympic medalist Dana Vollmer, competed in 500-meter freestyle swim meet while pregnant with her second child.
She was 26 weeks along. Previously, Vollmer had taken a break from swimming after becoming pregnant with her first child.
3 Keli Smith-Puzo: Field Hockey Olympian
Keli Smith-Puzo is proof that a woman can be a top athlete and still be a mom too. Before the two-time Olympic field hockey player competed in the 2008 Olympics, she gave birth to two kids.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, Keli is the only field hockey player representing the US, who has returned to compete internationally after giving birth, two times.
Keli actually credits her children with helping her competing and enjoying the sport of field hockey. So, this is proof that all these athletes can’t be wrong, combining a top-level athletic career, and motherhood at the same time.
Sure, this may not be a choice for every lady, but it’s enough to shut down naysayers to ambitious athletic ladies. Keli Smith-Puzo competed in 2011, at the Four Nations tournament in Argentina while 3 months pregnant.
2 Amelie Kober: Olympic Snowboarder At 2 Months
German snowboarder, Amelie Kober, is another athlete to look up to for inspiration. Although this lady was pregnant, she didn’t let that stop her from enjoying shredding on the snow, and carving away in the Olympics.
Unlike some pregnant athletes, Kober did decide to take it easy with how much she chose to compete. According to FIS, she actually made the decision to go it slow during certain events because of her pregnancy. Amelie competed in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver while 2 months pregnant.
She didn’t snag any medals during the 2010 games, like she previously did in 2006, winning a silver medal while competing at Turin. But, Kober did win a bronze medal in 2014.
Right after giving birth, Amelie still qualified for the 2011 World Champs. Amelie gave birth to a baby boy named Lorenz.
1 Diana Sartor & Kerstin Szymkowiak: German Skeleton Olympians
Over the years, athletes competing in extreme sports while pregnant has continued to be more readily seen and accepted. One winter sport that might still make some gaspin shock if an athlete is pregnant, is skeleton racing.
Two German skeleton racers, Diana Sartor and Kerstin Szymkowiak didn’t let a baby bump get in the way of their Olympic dreams. Kerstin competed while 2 months pregnant, and was awarded a silver medal at the 2010 Vancouver Games. She proudly bears the nickname, “The Ice Tiger.”
In 2006, paving the way for future pregnant athletes, Diana Sartor competed in skeleton races while 9 weeks pregnant. She was unable to snag a medal despite her efforts. According to Wikipedia, she missed the winning time by 0.28 seconds. Sartor took off from the Skeleton World cup to have her child for the 2006-2007 season.
Sources: Splinter News, Today, Time, NPR, She Knows, ABC News, Women's Health, People, Daily Mail, Metro, The Seattle Times, USA Today, ABC News, Daily Mail, Inside the Games, NBC Sports, The Telegraph , The Christian Science Monitor, FIS, Wikipedia, Hollywood Life, Huffington Post