A while ago, someone wrote me to ask about skating while pregnant, but I wasn’t able to give any personal experience. My last bout was in August 2012, and Baby Sour was born a year later. I gave this particular skater some general advice, but wondered: What do people do?
I asked a lot of people about their experiences, and this series is the result.
Throughout your pregnancy, there will be complex decisions to make, and doctors who shrug and say, “I can’t make this decision for you.”
Should you skate? I can’t make this decision for you.
If you decide you might want to skate in some capacity while you’re pregnant, you’ll have rules, regulations, insurance, feelings, hormones, opinions, and concern trolling to wade through. Yep. Just like in pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting.
Can you skate or participate in roller derby while pregnant? It depends.
Family doctor, roller derby player, and all-around smart and reasonable human Rogue One says, “Exercise in pregnancy is pretty common sense. No contact sports or super high speed sports. Other higher risk sports or activities with caution and only if you are good at them before your pregnancy.”
In short, yes, skating while pregnant is possible, and many people have done it. Most would not participate in any contact drills, and would ramp down activity as their spawn grows and sucks more of their lifeforce—I mean, takes more of your energy and more room in your abdomen.
We make calculated risks for ourselves and our children all the time. I place my child in the hands of strangers every time I put him in his approved rear-facing child safety seat and drive down the street. If someone tells you that you absolutely cannot do one thing that could endanger your child, please invite them to suck on a lemon, because that’s simply not possible. Roller skating during pregnancy can be a very bad idea, or it can be fine. Besides, plenty of people skate (and do lots of non-embryo-friendly things) in the weeks before they find out they’re pregnant.
What does your doctor think?
Your medical situation isn’t the same as anyone else’s. You’ve already filled your doctor in on roller derby and everything that goes along with it, right? So they don’t think it’s some kind of old-fashioned elbowing brawlfest? It helps if they know the difference between plain old roller skating, contact, and skating in close proximity to others.
What’s your risk tolerance?
Due to some mild complications early on in my pregnancy, I felt very vulnerable regarding my little blueberry-sized buddy, and was very risk averse. I’d already retired from skating, but I stopped riding my bike to work, too. Some people prefer to keep doing pretty much everything they were doing before, within reason and with medical clearance.
What was your skill level before this embryo made itself known?
If you were a skilled skater who rarely fell, you should feel more comfortable on skates, and be more able to shift your balance as time goes on. New skaters might not be able to react as quickly to different situations.
Is it legal?
Depending on where you live, there could be laws on the books that 1) ban you from skating pregnant or 2) ban your league from stopping you. Oh, what a complex world we live in. In some parts of the United States, for example, “reckless endangerment” could lead to a fetal homicide charge if anything happened. In other parts of the world, you can’t be discriminated against just for being knocked up.
Does your insurance allow it?
Check with your league’s insurance administrator ASAP, please.
What does your partner/family/support system think?
If this is going to freak your partner out, is it really worth it? Not that they really understand what the range of emotions you’re going through on a daily basis, though, come on. (Partners: Do you really want to take away the emotional outlet of a pregnant person?) (There were two incidents during my pregnancy where I threw things *near* my husband, and I am a mild-mannered person.)
Does your league have any policies about this?
If not, should they? Wouldn’t it be nice for pregnant skaters to have a support system within their league? Check on your leave policies too. (I’ve heard that Derby Lite does not allow any skating after finding out you’re pregnant.)
Is your team cool with it?
What about the people you’d actually be skating with? Would they still allow you to skate with them if you step off the roster? Is there anyone who’d be totally freaked out about skating laps with you (drammmzz)? When do you plan to tell your team?
Do you even want to skate? How much?
You know, you don’t have to skate if you don’t want to. This is a beautiful excuse for skipping endurance for a year or so. If this is your first child, it’s great to have a little extra time to spend with friends and family, do other projects, or just go to a damn movie without worrying about timing naps, or putting the diapers in for the hot cycle or, you know, caring for a child 24 hours a day.
If you want to skate, how should you go about it?
- Don’t do contact. I mean, who am I to tell you what to do, but that’s a bad idea.
- Consider officiating, bench coaching, or other roles to stay involved.
- Quit any time. It’s okay, really.
- Take it easy. Making a person is very challenging as it is.
- Don’t worry about “losing ground” or skill or conditioning. Stay active in whatever way works for you, and you’ll be fine if and when you decide to return to roller derby.
- Have fun. Roller skating rules.
Next time, I’ll share lots of stories from all kinds of skaters who had to navigate this for themselves. Keep your eyes out for part two!
*Pregnancy typically lasts nine and a half months. My kid was a week late. Come on.