Pregnancy means different things for different people. For some of us, it means spending as much time on the couch binge watching bad reality TV and scarfing down burritos as possible (ahem). For others, it means performing record-breaking feats of strength and agility. As the Winter Games in PyeongChang near, some are wondering: are there any pregnant athletes competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics?
Moms-to-be have made it into the games before, after all. And apparently, that shouldn't come as a huge shock — professional athletes are often able to remain on top of their game (or close to it) during pregnancy. World-renowned athlete and alleged superhuman Serena Williams won her 23rd Grand Slam at the Australian Open when she was around 8 weeks pregnant, reported ABC. Cynthia Gyamfi Bannerman, an Associate Professor of Women’s Health in Obstetrics and Gynecology Maternal-Fetal Medicine at the Columbia University Medical Center, told USA Today that she didn't find the win surprising, given Williams' peak physical condition pre-pregnancy.
"This is going to be different for each patient," she said, explaining that women who don't have any underlying health issues can go on to exercise throughout pregnancy (provided that form of exercise is safe). But it's that last part where the Winter Games get tricky: While tennis isn't considered a high risk sport, things like contact sports (ice hockey) and "fall prone" sports (skiing, snowboarding) are generally considered off-limits for pregnant women, according to WebMd. Perhaps that's why there are, in fact, no pregnant athletes competing at the 2018 PyeongChang Games. Or, perhaps we should say: There are no pregnant athletes competing at the 2018 Winter Olympics as far as we know. Most of the women who competed in the Olympics while pregnant were in their first trimester, so it's entirely possible that there are some athletes who are choosing to keep their news under wraps for now.
Another possibility? It's possible that there are pregnant athletes who don't even know they're expecting yet, which was the case for some of the women on the list below. Can you even imagine doing any of these things with the vaguest hint of morning sickness?
Whether they went home with medals or not, every single one of these mamas is a winner.
1. Kerri Walsh Jennings
As if winning her third gold medal at the 2012 London Games wasn't an impressive enough accomplishment for beach volleyball player Kerri Walsh Jennings, the athlete just happened to be five weeks pregnant at the time. As Jennings admitted on Today soon after:
“When I was throwing my body around fearlessly, and going for gold for our country, I was pregnant, and today I’m 11 weeks pregnant,” she said.
Jennings went on to give birth to her third child, a healthy baby girl named Scout, reported Today.
2. Anky van Grunsven
At four months pregnant, most moms are past the phase of keeping their impending arrival a secret, but Dutch Olympic gold medalist in dressage Anky van Grunsven had a reason for not revealing her pregnancy when she competed in the 2004 Athens Games:
“I didn’t tell anybody because it was so hot in Athens, and I didn’t want anybody to worry!” van Grunsven was quoted as saying in The Chronicle of the Horse.
3. Martina Valcepina
Not only was Italian short-track speedskater Martina Valcepina newly pregnant (one month) when she competed at the 2014 Sochi Games, she was pregnant with twins, reported InStyle. Pregnant. With. Twins.
4. Anna-Maria Johansson
At three months pregnant, Swedish handball player Anna-Maria Johansson competed in the 2012 London Games, according to CNN, and then took a well-deserved year off — can you blame her?
5. Mara Navarria
Apparently, Italian épée fencer Mara Navarria didn't even know she was pregnant when she competed at the 2012 London Games, according to Rebel Circus. But knowing how dedicated these athletes are, it wouldn't be surprising if she participated anyway!
6. Kristie Moore
Canadian curler Kristie Moore (pictured here on the far left) was already well into the bump phase of pregnancy (five months, according to The Seattle Times) when she won a silver medal at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
7. Kerstin Szymkowiak
Nicknamed "The Ice Tiger", Splinter noted that German skeleton racer Kerstin Szymkowiak was two months pregnant when she won a silver medal at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
8. Amelie Kober
Also a German Federal Police Officer, snowboarder Amelie Kober was two months pregnant at the 2010 Vancouver Games, according to CNN. She sat the rest of the season out after that!
9. Nur Suryani Mohd Taibi
Malaysian sharpshooter Nur Suryani Mohd Taibi didn't win any medals at the 2012 London Olympics, but she did set a record for being the most pregnant Olympian ever (nearly eight months along, reported Sports Illustrated).
10. Kim Rhode
Another pregnant Olympian with a keen eye, U.S. shotgun shooter Kim Rhode didn't know she was expecting her son Carter when she competed at the 2012 London Games, according to NBC. (It's a good thing the Olympics were early on in her pregnancy, as she ended up spending a good portion of it on bedrest!)
11. Magda Julin
Talk about being ahead of your time: Archy World News stated that Swedish figure skater Magda Julin was three months pregnant when she won a gold medal at the 1920 Antwerp Games and reportedly continued to skate well into her 90's!
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.