1. Hi Karen, for competitors you are pretty well known but please introduce yourself to the BJJ Mums community
Hi, my name is Karen Antunes, 32 years old, from Checkmat team and I’m a jiu jitsu professor.
2. And when did you become a mum?
Alice born in July 8, 2017. Before her I had 3 miscarriages without any reason (doctors still have no answer).
3. We follow you in IG, you were training also during your whole pregnancy, right?
Yes, I trained the whole pregnancy but jiu jitsu I did only until the 12th week. I was to scared to keep rolling. I did only drills and warm up but most of the time being on the mat just drilling make me miss more sparring so I prefer to work out, That way I could feel I was really doing something.
4. What did your doctor say?
Doctors here in USA said I could train fine but I went to Brazil when I was 12 weeks pregnant and he said to not training jiu jitsu, the risk wasn’t worth.
5. Which exercises did you do and which you didn’t?
I did everything I used to do when I wasn’t pregnant I just adapted the weights (less for sure). I trained with a watch tracking my heart beat to make sure baby was good. Even I need to train to keep my sanity she was my priority.
6. And you just won the Pan Ams, one of the most prestigious competitions, at Blackbelt division 8 months after having your baby! That is amazing! How did you prepare yourself?
There is no secret on it, I worked really really hard, always tired *laugh*
Some days more tired being all night awake, but on the mats every day trying my best. I think I only could because I refused to give up on myself which for me it means giving up on jiu jitsu and competitions.
I started training when she got her shots with 2 months, doctor said to not go with her to the gym or any place before she got vaccines.
8. Was it a natural delivery?
Yes, thanks God for that, otherwise I’ll need wait more time to back training.
9. How much weight did you gain during the pregnancy?
A lot *laugh*
I gain 33 pounds (15 kg).
10. And how did you do to cut it again? Special nutritionist? Diet? Kind of working out?
I lost 20 libras in the first 2 weeks and the rest I lost week by week. To be honest I didn’t make any special diet but I tried to eat clean all the time and I am sure breastfeeding is the thing to get in shape again. So, breastfeeding, eating well, training jiu jitsu and working out at least 3 times week was I what I did and still my routine today.
11. Explain how is a day routine in your life.
I wake up around 7am, make my breakfast and prepare Alice’s meal, try to clean the kitchen and laundry.
She wake up most of the days at 8:30 and them I take care of her routine, changing, feeding. We leave our apartment around 9am to teach our first class (every morning start at 10am). After class we train, 11:30 to around 1pm. Come back home, lunch, Alice’s shower and time for her nap, while she take her nap I do my work out or do my “home work” from the Gym (office stuff, bank…)
When I’m not doing that I try to clean up my apartment, I do a little everyday otherwise will be impossible to live there *laugh*. A messy house really drives me crazy. And then, it is time to take care of her again and come back to the gym and teach. I am not training jiu jitsu now twice a day because is too much time for her to be out. If I don’t put her in bed by 8:30pm she´d get too excited and I have hard time to sleep too, and again, she is my priority.
Only my husband, he watches her when I teach, he loves to take nap with her (I cant sleep during the day I got to grump). I have serious problems sharing responsibilities with him, even when I´m really tired, I like to take care of her most of the time.
13. What is the most difficult thing you had to endure so far as a new mum?
Most difficult thing its combining to be a mum and an athlete, I had no idea that something could be so hard! The delivery, the breastfeeding, this was nothing comparing with athlete routine of training.
Win Ibjjf Worlds 2018. That’s the only plan for me this year. Im putting all my energy into this goal.
15. Mackenzie, Garcia, Nicolini, all switched to MMA after reaching the top in the Bjj world, are you interested as well?
I had some conversations about it. My husband and some people tried to convince me to do MMA but I decided to stay only with jiu jitsu and motherhood. I don’t want to start something that I know is going to take me away from being a good mother. When I decide to do something, I give 100% of myself and I know I’ll be to tired to take a good care of my baby and this time of her life wont come back, I don’t want to miss anything, she changes everyday, always something new and I thank God everyday to be able to see everything.
16. Something else you would like to say to the other female athlete who wanna be mums and continue doing BJJ?
Make sure you really wish a baby in your life, you will never be the same person. Enjoy your journey in jiu jitsu before making the decision, compete, travel, go to seminars (its very important learn from different people). Really have fun and then, when you start to feel there is always something missing, when you feel jiu jitsu don’t full your whole life anymore, stop and have your children.That is was happened to me. There was a time where jiu jitsu was everything for me but then I got the feeling my life wasn’t complete anymore, today my life is full of happiness, now I feel I have everything that I need again. I’m so thankful and for sure is the reason to do all I do and if I do you can do too.