When I was pregnant for first time in 2009, I started a blog. My aim was to find a way to live BJJ outside the mat during the last months of pregnancy and to share my experiences with other BJJ practitioners, specially women, who were also pregnant or intend to have a family one day. I wanted to address all those women in the same situation than me, specially those who were skeptical about the compatibility of being a mother and a BJJ fighter. I wanted to show that it was perfectly possible since I was going to do it!
Since then, some years have gone by and I am proud to have not only reach my original goal of combining both: motherhood and BJJ, but also have helped a lot of women who addressed me for advice during the past years.
I even got so confident with myself in this multitasking role that now, 8 years later, I have two kids, got my black belt, have my own BJJ and wrestling academy (www.nexusfa.com, together with two other amazing partners) and still managed to compete successfully at high level, becoming amongst other things, world and european IBJJF champion at brownbelt (masters) in 2016.
My first contribution to what nowdays has become «BJJ Mums» was a written article at the GracieMag issue #158 in 2009, about BJJ and pregnancy, the first of its kind!
Here its transcription. I hope you enjoy it!
» I am 30 years old, a Doctor in Physics in Germany and I have been practicing Jiu Jitsu for 3 years at Gracie Barra Hamburg under Professor Carlos Eduardo «Chalita». I met my husband during the Christmas holidays in Spain, while training for the European Championship 2008. He was an instructor during those days, and we met, fought and fell in love. We got married in Las Vegas after the 2009 Worlds.
My life has been completely influenced by Jiu-Jitsu since the first day I decided to try it. I wanted to get as much out of what was left of my youth as possible, so I went on to train six days a week, mostly with men, and I never miss a training session. My Jiu-Jitsu improved accordingly and I have had relatively good success in competitions, nothing peculiar in my story… until I got pregnant. I realized something was wrong with my body when I woke up one Sunday morning for a competition and felt too sick and tired to compete. That was unthinkable to me!
I admit that the first thing I thought of when I discovered I was pregnant was: what’s going to happen to my training during the pregnancy? Will I have to stop fighting once the baby is born? But when you go to the doctor to confirm what the pregnancy tests already told you, and you listen to the hearbeat of that tiny creature inside you, there’s no turning back. At that moment, you, your life, your Jiu-Jitsu and everything change forever. But as Darwin once said, it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. One should apply that to BJJ and life in general. So, why should BJJ and pregnancy not be compatible? It´s about adapting to the new condition.
Stop?? Never! Hence, over these nine months, I learned that Jiu-Jitsu is not only about fighting. Up until the seventh pregnancy month, given the fact that my pregnancy was not at risk and the baby and I were perfectly healthy, I did the whole conditioning training and practiced the technique of the day, just like everybody else, only reducing the frequency from six to three, four times per week. I also did light rolling with advanced people who I was sure woudn’t hurt me or my baby in any way. I watched more training sessions, matches and videos than usual and I learned a lot, but not just new techniques. I learned from the mistakes of others, like what to avoid, and a lot of new DETAILS, which, as I read in one of the latest GracieMag is what separates the average fighter from the champion. Obviously, I didn´t train with anyone mounting me, I avoided takedowns of all kinds and guard passes pressing on my belly. After the seventh month, my belly was so big that I coudn’t do most of the techniques. I also had some pain during the warm-up, so I stopped doing it.
The secret is: listen to your body. I trained when I felt healthy, stopped when my body told me to. I carry on practicing some «easy» techniques like the Ezequiel (forearm choke) or Kimura. There are always new details to learn. Thus, I was able to keep up my technique and physical conditioning, and I feel Jiu-Jitsu rewarded me with not pregnancy troubles: no stretch marks, no back pain, no varicose veins. Sometimes I even forget that I’m pregnant!
That’s why I recommend that you not let Jiu-Jitsu keep you from starting a family, but nor should starting a family keep you from practicing Jiu-Jitsu. Both are compatible, babies and Jiu-Jitsu go hand in hand»