Magnetic North - equipping alpine seekers
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Pregnant Athlete: "You're so small."

In learning how to connect with other athletes, I realize that telling more of my story is vital. I'm an introvert and tend to be careful with whom I share my journey, believing it to be rude to 'vulnerability spotlight' you dear readers with my internal process. I also rely heavily on evidence to validate the recommendations I make to my clients, rather than relying on my own lived experience as a mother/athlete and my experience as a coach.

Storytelling is how we connect, stories give flesh to the hard structure of good data. So here I'll share a short reflection I wrote back in April 2016 when I was thirty-six weeks pregnant. Look forward to more personal stories - and a continued dedication to the science of endurance.

Brittany Raven

I look 'small' (whatever that means) to most people. I'm thirty-six weeks and most people just started being able to tell I'm pregnant. the baby measures large on ultrasound, my fundal height is normal for my place in the pregnancy, and I attribute this to my elite athleticism, strong abs, and really long torso (I'm 5'10"). I'm one of those freakish moms you see on TV who has a six-pack at full term. this is not because I starve myself or even really care to have abs at this point, it is only because my life, my job, all of my time is spent as a mountain runner, backcountry skier, and climber.

yesterday something pretty awkward happened. another woman approached me in a coffee shop in my hometown - really small place - and said how neat it is that we're both pregnant and about the same due date. after chatting for a while I mentioned the upcoming birth and how excited I am. she looked shocked and told me she thought I was seventeen weeks pregnant like her. I reinforced that we all carry our babies differently but felt simultaneously judged for my appearance and as though my smallness had automatically judged her beautiful, round belly.

this sort of comparison feels terrible to women like her and terrible to women like me. anytime someone exclaims: "oh you're so SMALL!" I feel my effort building this baby over the last nine months is invalidated; somehow if I'm not bigger I'm not actually pregnant. it makes me feel judged and even if others may perceive this as a positive judgement it doesn't feel good to me. 

I wish we could embrace each woman's unique way of incubating her baby. whether she is huge or tiny, has visible abs or cellulite; as long as she is healthy, feels good, and is caring for her baby we should all just celebrate. or mind our own business.


read more:

Dispelling Myths Series

postpartum climbing

Seattle Times feature