Written by Julie Stuckenschneider
I’m just going to say what a handful of women feel but too scared to say. Lots of women believe once you’re pregnant your career is over. This isn’t true. Allyson Felix, Lindsay Flach and Kerri Walsh Jennings are three price examples of success during and after pregnancy. All three women are Olympic medalists who embraced their pregnancies during their careers.
At age 32, Allyson Felix was a six-time Olympic gold medalist and an eleven-time world champion. During this point of her life she was at the top of her game yet she wanted more. She wanted a family. In 2018, she decided to do just that but was concerned because she was renegotiating her contract with Nike which expired in 2017. Negotiations did not go well and Nike wanted to pay he 70% less than before her pregnancy. Allyson was willing to accept the pay if that’s what they believed she was worth. However, she wasn’t willing to accept the stigma around maternity. She urged Nike to not contractually punish her if she did not perform her best in the months surrounding childbirth.
As one of Nike’s most marketed athletes if she couldn’t secure this protected than who could?
After other athletes came forward other brands in the industry including Nike changed their policies on maternity. Allyson fought for this because she believes pregnancy can and should be a part of a thriving professional athletic career. That just because you want to start a family doesn’t mean you have to give up your career in order to do so.
When Lindsay Flach was 18 weeks pregnant she competes in the Track and Field 2021 Olympic trials. The heptathlete stated it was mentally challenging because she knew she couldn’t compete at the level she was able to prior to her pregnancy but she wanted to prove what women were capable of even while they are pregnant.
Kerri Walsh Jennings is a three-time Olympic gold medalist, winning one medal while 5 weeks pregnant. She is someone who always is focused on the end result, winning, and being the best. Kerri still wants to be the best but her perspective has changed. She states that her children have taught her more about life as an athlete than anyone else has. Kerri is a mom to three children.
Pregnancy doesn’t have to be viewed as a sentence to an ending of your previous life and goals. You can still do all the things you hope to but you may need to prioritize differently. Look at motherhood as a chance to show your children if you work hard you can accomplish all you set out to do no matter your circumstances.