Amy Olson heads to the U.S. Open seven months pregnant. But when we talk about pregnant and post-partum women in sport, are we missing the point?
Amy Olson will only have a few months left of her pregnancy when she tees it up at the U.S. Women’s Open. And she’s not the only one on the LPGA Tour who’s played until she’s almost ready to pop.
Brittany Lincicome totted up a total of 10 tournaments the season she was pregnant with her second daughter, competing in the KPMG Women’s PGA when she was 30 weeks.
Stacy Lewis was almost halfway through her pregnancy when she played in the U.S. Women’s Open in 2018.
And seven-time major winner Inbee Park, former Solheim Cup player Caroline Masson and 2020 Women’s British Open champion Sophia Popov all continued to compete as their bumps blossomed – to name just a few.
There have also been plenty of post-partum victories worth shouting about, too.
Catriona Matthew famously won the Women’s British Open just 11 weeks after giving birth to her second daughter. (11 weeks after having my son, I could just about put the hoover round. Let alone play four consecutive rounds of golf.) And many a Major title have been claimed by mums with tiny children at home.
It is a seriously impressive feat, and testament to the ability and dedication of these professional golfers.
But I read a couple of articles about Amy Olson this week as she prepares for the U.S. Women’s Open, and all they seemed to focus on is when (or if) she’ll return to golf after popping the baby out.
As if any of it is that simple.
It’s the same for any media coverage on pregnant and post-partum women in sport, in fact. And it dramatically misses the point.
More than just a job
Amy Olson – like the rest of her peers on tour who’ve had children – has worked so hard for so many years to earn her place and compete at this level.
It’s more than just her job.
It’s part of her identity.
And being successful relies on her being strong, fit and able to swing the club close to perfectly.
Golf is also a potentially very short career, for a lot of people at least. And a job no one can guarantee she’ll be able to go back to. She can’t just take a couple of years out to have kids and pick back up where she left off.
Just the decision to put all of that aside is a massive deal, without the physical, psychological, and emotional demands of having a baby. Or recovering from it.
Swing adjustments around a growing belly. A new course strategy as strength and hitting distance start to decrease. Leaking boobs. Functioning on very little sleep and the Mum-guilt (which is oh-so very real). And the constant worry for this tiny, precious baby adding to it all.
I’ve spoken very openly about mine and my husband’s journey to having a baby. And when I finally fell pregnant, I was so terrified that I hardly played golf at all in the first trimester. Imagine if playing golf was my job? Then what?
I know it’s not an issue that is unique to women’s golf. It’s probably not even an issue that solely applies to women’s sport, either.
But we need to be better at recognising the sacrifice these professional women golfers are making. And celebrating them a hell of a lot more too.
Pregnant or know someone who is? Here are my tips for playing golf during pregnancy >