After seeing photos of professional surfer Bethany Hamilton riding waves near Kauai, Hawaii, six months into her pregnancy, doctors have described the sport as inappropriate for soon-to-be mothers, according to the New York Daily News.
“Surfers have a chance of falling in the water, and hitting big waves can cause trauma to the abdomen,” Dr. Daniel Roshan, an ob-gyn with NYU Langone Medical Center, told the Daily News.
Hamilton is perhaps best known for holding a competitive spot among America’s most accomplished surfers, even after losing an arm to a shark attack in 2003. As Outside wrote last March, she won the most recent Surf n Sea Pipeline Women’s Pro at the Banzai Pipeline in Oahu, Hawaii.
“Giving birth may be one of the most physical events a woman goes through, so being active and keeping muscles alive and ready is what I believe we need to do,” Hamilton told women’s health magazine Fitbump360 in a recent interview. Though cutting back on explosive movements and slowing down her regular beach jogs, Hamilton said still surfs enthusiastically.
Concern for the health of Hamilton and her unborn child are echoed by a Committee Opinion published by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in 2002.
“Recreational activities with an increased risk of falling, such as gymnastics, horseback riding, downhill skiing, and vigorous racquet sports, have an inherently high risk for trauma in pregnant and nonpregnant women,” the article reads. “Those activities with a high risk of falling or for abdominal trauma should be avoided during pregnancy.”
Hamilton may be taking these risks to heart in the weeks to come, as she indicated in a video announcing her pregnancy last February alongside her husband, Adam Dirks.
“I plan to surf as long as I can,” she said. “Once the belly’s pretty big, maybe [I’ll] just mellow it out and spend more time swimming and just enjoying the ocean and enjoying other activities.”