Brazilian MMA fighter Kinberly Novaes recently realized she had won her title belt in a fight at 12 weeks pregnant. Although it may not sound safe, the mom-to-be didn't know she was fighting with a bun in the oven.
As she told told MMAFighting.com, it took until she was well into her second trimester for her to figure out there was something strange going on with her body. When she had a hard time dropping weight for her upcoming fight scheduled on Aug. 21, 2015 — even after strict dieting — she booked an appointment with her doctor.
Novaes wasn't prepared for the "knockout" news she received: The straw weight Brazilian fighter was six months pregnant with a baby boy. "We did a morphology ultrasound last week, and the doctor said I'm 24 weeks pregnant, almost six months, and my baby is healthy and strong," explained Novaes.
This put Novaes's big win on May 17, 2015, in a whole new light: She won the Noxii 115-pound title against Renata Baldan when she was 12 weeks pregnant. Novaes said that while she had been feeling sick and tired with headaches and cramps for quite some time, she was too stubborn to go to the doctor. She's happy to report that her baby is fine, even after two trimesters of hard training, fighting and dehydration.
Novaes's news turns everything we know about conventional pregnancy advice on its head. The moment you pee on a stick, which for many women is right after the first missed period, you're expected to live in a bubble — don't drink alcohol, don't drink coffee, avoid soft cheeses and sushi, don't even think about taking a hot bath and basically don't do anything fun that you once enjoyed doing.
And then we have an MMA fighter who kicked someone's ass in her first trimester like it was no big deal. While no doctor would ever sanction a pregnant-lady fistfight, the American Academy of Pediatrics endorses running and jogging during pregnancy for women who aren't experiencing complications. Physical activities with a high fall risk, like skiing and high impact aerobics, are discouraged. You can probably guess that the AAP thinks contact sports during pregnancy are a terrible idea.
It's always important to discuss any physical activity during pregnancy with your doctor to make a decision you're comfortable with. But this pregnant fighter's story challenges our traditional view of pregnant women. A woman's body, designed to carry and push out a baby, is a wonderful thing, and it's capable of much more than we give it credit for.
Of course, not every pregnant woman is going to jump in the ring and win a title, but there are pregnant women out there moving their bodies every day — like the pregnant Olympian who completed a race six weeks before her due date or the all-American swimmer who swam the 30-mile English Channel at 11-weeks pregnant. This should be all the proof we need that pregnant women aren't so fragile. Maybe it's time we stop treating them with kid gloves.
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