Arrianne Aukes, H-131, dutch pro windsurfer (Fanatic, Duotone) sent us this engaging article about her recent pregnancy, and tells how that experience changed her plans and life. It's really worth of listening to her story, that can be useful to other women undergoing the same experience, and also to people, in general, to reflect about the relation with their body and with the sports they love.
Pregnancy and windsurfing: sharing my experience, by Arrianne Aukes
(Podcast of the article)
2020 just started and I had big plans for the year. All my windsurf clinics in Bonaire and Turkey were fully booked for the spring, I just finished my yoga teacher education, so I also started organising Yoga and Windsurfing clinics, and I was more fit as ever and excited for upcoming competition season.
I was in Turkey when COVID started to spread around Europe, and with all the travel restrictions I had to cancel my clinics to Bonaire. I was sad about the cancellation, not only because I put in so much effort, but I was mainly just so excited for it! In the same week I canceled the clinics, I started to feel a little sick.... The first thought that came up was Corona, as we had traveled from Holland to Turkey only two weeks before. But I didn’t had the symptoms, I was mainly just feeling very tired and nauseous... and I was hungry all night long.
It turned out it was not Corona. but I was pregnant! It was not planned. but I was very happy. Although it was a strange time to be pregnant, with everything in the world being uncertain.
For me, however, the timing was quite good, even though it was not timed! My clinics were all canceled because of Corona, which was very bad for my financial situation, but I would have struggled running them with my morning sickness anyway. But it was mainly perfect timing with all the PWA competitions being cancelled in 2020 because of Corona, so I did not lose my ranking or anything because of my pregnancy, which normally is the case when you are out for more than 5 months (which definitely is the case when you are 9 months pregnant…)
The first 16 weeks were tough. I felt sick almost all day long and I felt like a different person. I didn’t feel like doing sports at all, I just wanted to lay down and eat unhealthy food. For people who know me well, they knew that this was very hard to accept from myself. I already feel bad not doing sports for a day.. ;-)
The only sport I kept on doing was yoga, and it was mainly because of the lessons I gave that I had to keep going with them.
After those first few months I started to feel better again, I got some energy back and realised how much I missed windsurfing and being active. I already started to have pain in my lower back and other little pains, because of my growing belly and I was worried for the 6 months that were still ahead of me.
With 22 weeks pregnant, I went windsurfing again. No freestyle of course, just slowly cruising up and down.
Windsurfing while being pregnant can be dangerous - you can have a bad crash and fall on your belly. That is why I definitely don’t recommend anyone doing it while being pregnant. But for me, it felt like a natural thing to do and I had 100% trust in myself for this matter. I grew up on a windsurf board, and for the past 12 years I have been windsurfing all year long - almost every day. Never, in all those months windsurfing while being pregnant, did I fall in ONCE (sometimes, I jumped in myself, because I was getting too hot); or I never even had a slight feeling of not being in control, otherwise I would have stopped straight away.
I had a few things I was very strict in. We always went windsurfing at the same spot with the same wind direction. I only used the same gear all the time. My 4.0 IDOL and 85 SKATE. I knew my gear so well and it was perfectly tuned. With more or less wind, I would not go. I only went, when I felt good, and if I felt any doubt, or when I was tired, I always listened to my body and would not go.
For me, windsurfing feels like walking - so natural and totally in control. I loved the feeling of being on the water with our little girl in my belly. I never thought I would enjoy just cruising up and down (not doing any freestyle trick), but it gave me so much pleasure. And the little baby in my belly was mega active and kicking me a lot, but she always calmed down as soon as I was on the water. I guess she liked it too ;-)
The more I got back in to sports, the better I felt. The pain in my lower back disappeared, and my tiredness too. I kept on doing yoga almost every day (I am also a prenatal yoga teacher, so I knew what I could do), I went swimming a few days a week and windsurfing when it was windy.
Every week, I had to put my harness a little looser and higher on my belly, and my sessions were getting shorter. But I still enjoyed it a lot.
When I was six months pregnant I flew back to Holland, as I wanted to give birth there and prepare the house a little. I stopped with windsurfing. I did not fit a wetsuit anymore, and I didn’t want to windsurf in different spots than I was used to. I kept swimming and doing yoga multiple times a week until I was 41 weeks pregnant.
With 41 weeks they induced my labour. She got stuck with her shoulder, guess she had the same big shoulder as her mom already ;-)
It’s proven that staying fit during your pregnancy helps your body with labour (in the end, it’s a huge work out for the body so it helps to have a good level of fitness), and being fit also helps with a quick recovery after giving birth.
Nonetheless, it felt like I lost all my muscles after giving birth! The first six weeks I did not do any sports. My body was exhausted and every second of the day I was busy with our little girl. But after six weeks, I slowly got back in to yoga and some exercises to help my body recover. I think it’s important to take enough time to heal and recover, and to get professional help or advise what muscles to train (and not to train).
But I started to miss windsurfing a lot. The first time having a sail in my hands again was in the middle of February; windsurfing on ice! Not real windsurfing, of course, but it was a start! It was like having a little taste of it again, and it only made me hungry for more.
Around that time, I was getting more and more restless in Holland. It was the first time in more than ten years that I spend so many months in my country in winter time, without any windsurfing and sunshine. I never seen my hair that dark! And, in the meantime, it was such a long time again that I had been doing freestyle that I knew I needed some solid hours on the water to get back in shape, that a few short freezing sessions would not do it. So I decided to go to Bonaire for six weeks.
I arrived in the evening, and the next morning I drove to Sorobon Beach. It was windy, and I started rigging up my brand new 4.8 IDOL sail. Aya was sleeping in the trolley was taken care of, so I could go for a spin. It’s hard to describe the feeling of that first moment being back on the water. It felt like FREEDOM. I love being a mom, but being back on my board made me feel again that I am much more than just a mom. I think it was the best half hour windsurfing of my life. I kept on smiling every run.
I tried some freestyle moves. I was a bit worried if I could still do them after not doing any trick for more than a year... but I landed most of them straight away! Guess it’s something your body just knows how to do. Especially the moves I am doing for many years where easy, the ones I just learned before I got pregnant I had to relearn myself a little, but it didn’t take much time at all.
After the first day, the wind dropped for a few days. I was sad about that because I wanted more than just this taste of windsurfing again, but it was good for my body to ease back in to it a little. I almost forgot that amazing feeling of your body being tired, feeling all the muscles in your body again.
When you windsurf almost every day for so many years in a row, you don’t notice anymore which muscles you use a lot, and I only had muscle pain after very long or intense wave sessions. It was a great way of realising again how intense windsurfing is for people who don’t windsurf regular, or who learn how to windsurf.
The longest windsurf break in more than ten years for me was for a very good cause, and sometimes you only realise how much you love a sport when you can’t do it for a while!
Hang loose, Arrianne Aukes, H-131.
Photo credits in the picture title (click on images).
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