Serena Williams’s Pregnant Grand Slam Victory Proves How Incredible Women’s Bodies Can Be
The tennis star was 8 weeks into her pregnancy when she won the Australian Open. We asked an ob-gyn to explain what's typically going on at the two-month mark.
Serena Williams is having a year like no other: She won her 23rd Grand Slam tournament in January, appeared in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue in February, and just announced on Snapchat that she and fiancé Alexis Ohanian have a baby on the way. But get this: According to her Snap, Williams is currently 20 weeks pregnant, which means she took home that W when she was two months pregnant. It doesn't get much more badass than that.
After the news broke yesterday, Twitter erupted with awe-filled tweets about the tennis star's next-level abilities:
So how did Williams kick total butt at the Australian Open? After all, the two-month mark is when most moms-to-be are struggling with not-so-fun symptoms like nausea and vomiting.
"Morning sickness happens at about eight weeks in the pregnancy," says Michael Cackovic, MD, an ob-gyn at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. "And around 90% of women will experience it in some form," he says, noting that the severity and symptoms can vary.
It's possible Williams was also dealing with some acid reflux and heartburn; but these issues are more common in the second and third trimesters, says Dr. Cackovic. Other classic pregnancy symptoms—like exhaustion, shortness of breath, and changes in bowel movements—tend to come later as well, he adds, as the uterus grows bigger.
If Williams was among the majority of pregnant women who get morning sickness, how was she able to stay on top of her game? Aromatherapy and anti-nausea medication can help with the symptoms, says Dr. Cackovic. And some women are able to plan their schedules around their morning sickness: "If you typically get your nausea at a certain time of day, [you can] adjust your workouts to avoid feeling sick at that time," he says.
In fact, Dr. Cackovic notes, it's not uncommon for seasoned athletes like Williams to handle their pregnancies like total champs: "For an elite athlete, aerobic fitness can stay the same, or improve slightly while pregnant if she stays fit," he says. "At least 17 athletes have competed in the Olympics while pregnant, and many have won medals."
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What about all the non-elite-athlete pregnant women who want to stay fit? Keep up the same routine your body was accustomed to pre-pregnancy, advises Dr. Cackovic. "Any patient that’s exercising beforehand, we tell them to continue on during pregnancy," he says. "Most women can do their normal activity up to the 32- to 34-week mark."
The most important thing is to listen to your body for signs it's time to let up, Dr. Cackovic adds, such as feeling off-balance (hello, baby bump) or short of breath. Otherwise, feel free to kick some butt Williams style.