The Nine Month Injury: Thoughts on Roller Derby and Pregnancy

Written by Hannah WillKillSome

Disclaimer: This piece is about personal experience.  It should not be considered advice, as everyone is different.

Hey all, soooo…  I’m out of derby on 9 month injury leave.  That’s right, I’m pregnant.  When I found out, one of my thoughts was, “What about derby?  I’m rostered for a couple games!”  So I got on Google and searched for info on what was okay to do and not do.  I was able to find a bit of information on contact sports and general fitness, but it was really hard to find information on derby.  I found a few people’s posts in random message boards.  Some women stopped skating right away.  One said she skated right until the end!  Some played games while pregnant, others didn’t.  Because I was only 5 weeks along at that point, I decided that I’d be okay to skate until I saw my doctor at the end of the week.  I let my captain and coaches know that I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to play in the upcoming games, but didn’t tell her why at that point.  I told them I’d know at the end of the week.  I looked up my league’s policy on pregnancy, and it basically said that anything I chose to do after finding out was at my own risk, and I should inform the board (would be kept confidential until I decided to tell people) as soon as possible.

When I saw my doctor, I asked her about skating, and participating in a full contact sport.  I told her that I was scheduled to play some games over the next couple weeks, and I needed to know if I could still play.  She said that I would be fine for the games as the baby was still very small and well protected by my pelvis (DO NOT take this as medical advice!  This is what my doctor said for me.  Everyone is different).  I decided that I would play full contact until my last game, which was at 8 weeks.  Many of the posts I found on Google said that the girls just faked an injury until they were ready to tell people.

My doctor had cleared me to skate until I started losing my balance, as most of the risk of skating while pregnant is if you fall on your belly, so most women are okay to continue with it until that point.  After my last game, I told our athletic director that I was pregnant, and would be claiming that my old knee injury was acting up.  I participated in everything except for contact drills because I “didn’t want to risk an unexpected trip/fall and tweak my knee.”  Luckily, I actually do have a pre-derby knee injury that occasionally acts up, so no one suspected anything.  The hardest thing was staying hydrated enough for practice.  You get really dehydrated when you’re pregnant!  I also ended up telling another one of my coaches that I was pregnant.  It’s really hard for me to turn down games when I don’t have a legitimate excuse!  I’m a terrible liar.  It was often frustrating because I couldn’t do contact drills, but still felt totally fit and didn’t look any different.  I just didn’t want to risk it, and I knew I wouldn’t be playing any more games anyways.

I told everyone at 11 weeks.  I continued going to practice and participating in what I could.  I found that it was very difficult at first because some people were scared to even touch me or skate to close for fear that I might fall and break the baby or something.  It was incredibly frustrating at times.  I’m pregnant!  Not made of glass!  There’s tons of research on exercising during pregnancy now, and my doctor had cleared me to skate in non-contact drills.  Once the girls got used to me being pregnant, and could see that I was still skating well, they were okay.  I found this incredibly frustrating in every aspect of life.  Many people were suddenly treating me like I was very, very fragile.  Some of my co-workers were very concerned about me lifting things.  This was a problem, as I work in child care and have to lift toddlers quite frequently.  Luckily I have many good squatting muscles from derby!  Squatting is good for lifting, and good for pregnancy in general.

5 and a half months

I have a long torso, so I haven’t been showing as much as most people do.  I was able to keep skating until the end of the season (about 7 months along).  I gradually toned down my level of intensity and participation.  I would do similar things on the outside.  When they were working on endurance I would go slower than before.  Sometimes on the track, sometimes to the side.  When doing partner work like jumps and deeks (juking), I would often use pylons and do similar things around the pylons, so I was keeping up some of my skills, and using similar muscle groups.  I could still feel productive and involved.  During scrimmage portions of practice I would help “ref” (I put that in quotations because reffing is very difficult and I’m not very effective at it).  I would primarily be jam timing, and I “jam reffed” a couple times.  My version of jam reffing is calling lead, and kinda attempting to count points.  Watching for obvious penalties.  Luckily we usually have a ref or two at practice, so they would catch the big things that I missed.  I don’t think I’ll ever be a ref.  It’s too hard!!!!

The new season is starting up now, and it sucks that I can’t skate.  I’m continuing to do a lot of committee work for the league until I have the baby and drop off the face of the earth.  But I will be back as soon as I’m able.  Hopefully it won’t take too long for my skills and fitness level to return, and I’ll be back to playing games as soon as I re-benchmark!  My goal is to play in a game by the end of the season, but since it’s my first baby I have no idea how long it will take me to get back to derby, or how much time and energy I’ll be able to give to derby after the baby comes.  I tried coaching at a scrimmage in December, and that went fairly well, so maybe I’ll do some more of that this season.

I hope that people find this helpful.  You don’t have to completely stop everything.  Just follow the advice of your doctor, and you’ll be fine.  Stay involved with your league in non-skating ways.  NSO and do other volunteer activities like committee work.  It’s actually been really good doing committee work while on maternity leave as I can now send emails during the work day.

Have any of you been on 9 month injury leave?  What did you do to stay involved and keep fit?

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3 comments

  1. Hi, Hanna! First, congratulations! And second, thank you. Very much.
    I’m a 39 years old freshie from Argentina and started skating 4 months ago. The rookies and the “big girls” of the league tell me that I’m doing it very well and learning really fast, and my second try out it’s in two weeks… but this morning I realized that I’m pregnant, and it really scares me because I want this baby but I feel that all this will cut my progress and I don’t want to lose all that I gained… Please tell us how are you doing with your baby and derby. It was really helpful reading you. Thanks again!!

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