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At talk about motherhood and surfing

Updated: May 14, 2023

This is a testimony of 3 surf mamas who share some thoughts about surfing and motherhood, the challenges you meet having a baby on the side, or in your womb while all you dream of is to be in the line up surfing all day.


Maybe you are planning on having kids but are afraid that your freedom will disappear and the happy surf days are over. Maybe you are pregnant and insecure of whether you can still surf, or maybe you are a new mom and it feels like a day of surfing, which seems to be a huge challenge with a baby on board.


Read on and find inspiration to become the surf mama you want to be.



Matilde, Partner in Surf Søstre, @scandinaviandreamer_cph


How far in your pregnancy did you surf?


With my first baby, I stopped surfing when I was about 6 month in, because I was afraid of doing any damage to the baby. Having a human inside my belly was a quite unfamiliar feeling. Also I had gone through two miscarriages, so I was super afraid of doing something wrong.


With my second baby I was all about NOT putting my life on hold and darred to do a little bit more. I surfed until I was 8 month pregnant. It wasn’t elegant and I got tired super quick, but it was all worth it! To be feeling like myself still and the joy it brings made the “waiting game” feeling much lighter on me.



But how did you manage to paddle on your board?


I found my own technique where my weight was more on my chest than on my belly and then I pushed my but up. It was a bit of a hassle for my fragile neck and the paddle strength was totally off, but that was the technique that worked for me.


Weren’t you afraid of hurting your baby?


Of course it played tricks on my mind, but I usually don’t get too close to crashing with others, which I think would be the most dangerous part. Also I read from a doctor in France, where surfing is much more widespread, that first of all it is much more dangerous to bicycle, which for us Danes might be a thing we do not even think about while being pregnant. The doctor also painted the picture of a balloon with a little ball inside, almost like the fetus and it really takes a lot of pressure to damage the baby.



Which challenges did you meet when your baby was born and you wanted to go surfing?


First of all you need to wait two month to jump the water after giving birth, due to infections. My second time I honestly jumped in the water after 1,5 month and it totally went fine. Your back muscles though!! Wow, have they been misplaced!? It was like they still sat on my sides and didn’t have any function.


Second, your baby needs you and your boobs around 24/7. You might be surrounded by hundreds of helping hands, but the baby mostly wants YOU. I remember one time surfing in Gilleleje, where my mother in law was strolling with my baby and she waved at me, every time he needed some milk. I have already thought about making a waterproof surf-babyalarm, but I guess it would only be a Danish Surf Søster who would buy such thing :D






How is your life with surfing different now than before kids?


Defo filled with a lot of jealousy from other people who don’t have a deadline to be out of the water. We were in Sri Lanka for three months, but I was only able to get 1-2 hours in the water each day, because our kids of course wanted to hang out with us and the surf spots weren't a child friendly location all the time. I had to do surf/kids shifts with my boyfriend each time and that takes some true organization and planning around naps and surf spot transportation.


But other than that, my life is still full of surfing and I hope my kids will join me one day even though I don’t know if it will get less stressful to have them in the water with me. Stressing about them getting hurt or drowning. Maybe I need some mother to mother advice on that part.


Word of advice to other surf mamas?

  1. Don’t be afraid of surfing while you're pregnant, but always listen to your body.

  2. Remember that the first month, where the baby needs you 24/7 will feel like forever, but actually is a very short time. Suddenly they eat real food, they might go to kindergarten, you can have other people care for your baby for more than an hour and even for a sleepover with your parents maybe.

  3. Don't stress about getting back in “normal” shape and pushing your body too much. It will feel weird in the beginning but suddenly you are you again… even with a stronger mind. Personally I have been stronger after having babies than before. Maybe because you just care more about the important things now.


 


Swedish surfer, Angelica Franzén, @surfsyster


How old are you and your kids?


I'm 38 years old, my son Teddy is 6 years and my daughter Millie is 8 months.


Where do you live?


We live in Halmstad on the Swedish west coast.


How did you take up surfing and when did you start?


I first tried surfing 2009 when I lived in Bali for 6 months, I’ve been hooked ever since 😅




What is your home break and how often do you go surf there?


There are a couple of spots here in Halmstad that I surf as often as possible, maybe 2 times a month in general.


How many years have you been surfing before you got pregnant?


I had been surfing for about 7 years when I got pregnant with my son.



How far in your pregnancy did you surf and how did you manage?


With my firstborn I was able to surf until 4 months pregnant but my last pregnancy I had to stop at 2 months due to bad pelvic girdle pain. With my son I used a bigger board in the end and only surfed when the waves were small and the conditions were clean. It was a really cool experience being able to surf with a baby on board, however I was very careful when I was out and read up on risks of surfing pregnant in advance.



Did you have any worries or thoughts on being pregnant and becoming a mother, when also having a passion for surfing?


I was very worried I wouldn’t be able to continue surfing when becoming a mother. Fortunately my fiancé surfs as well, which I think have been crucial for my possibility to continue surfing as much after the kids were born. He understands the abstinence I get from not surfing and we prioritize surfing instead of stuff like having a tidy home😅


Did you know other surfer girls who had babies you could relate to when you became pregnant yourself?


No I didn’t. Although Bethany Hamilton (shout out Bethany 🤙🏼😍) has always been a big inspiration for me and seeing her surf during and after her pregnancy was really inspiring.


Did your body feel any different jumping back on the board again after giving birth?


I was back in the water in about 6 weeks after both my pregnancies, which for me might have been way too soon to actually be able to surf. I suffered from bad pelvic pain when I was pregnant so my body physics was really bad from not being able to do any sort of work out (or even lift a grocery bag or get out of the car😆) in so many months. The first sessions after giving birth have been mostly just paddling, sitting on my board and finding my core muscles again. I was happy for every pop up I landed on my feets. But the female body is so amazing and I’ve been fortunate to get back to normal in a couple of months.


Which challenges did you meet when your baby was born and you wanted to go surfing?



The biggest challenge has been living in a cold country like Sweden and both me and my fiancé wanting to surf. Which meant one of us had to stay on the beach with the baby in the howling wind, rain and freezing temperatures in the middle of the winter. After a couple of months curling up in the backseat of our car every surf session, we decided to buy a camper which made everything so much more comfortable and easy. I don’t think I would have been able to surf as much if we wouldn’t have bought that car! Since the surf here is so fickle and we don’t get waves that often, one really can’t afford missing a day with good wind because you never know when there will be waves next time. The camper has made it possible for us to be much more flexible, we can make dinner in the van and wait for the wind to pick up, take a nap with the kids, change diapers without having to look for bathrooms etc.




How is your life with surfing different now than before kids?


It’s actually not that big of a difference as I thought it would be. Of Course the times when me and my fiancé can surf together is very rare… which doesn’t really matter since he’s such a wave hog and steals all the good waves anyways!🙃 And also the possibility of going on surf trips abroad might have become a bit more complicated, and more expensive. But I think I appreciate surfing even more nowadays and I’m looking forward to sharing the stoke with my kids in the future if they want to try surfing.


Do you and your family have any surf trips planned in the pipeline or other future dreams for your little surf family?


Hopefully we’re going for a surf trip this summer. I would love to show my kids Bali but we’re also thinking of maybe taking the camper to northern Spain for a couple of weeks - Or maybe Sri Lanka which I’ve never been to.


Words of advice to other surf mamas?


Don’t forget yourself as an own (surfing) individual! It’s so easy to put all your focus and energy on your newborn baby, but forget all about yourself and your wellbeing. If you want to go for a surf - do it! Happy surfed out mom -> happy baby! 🤙🏼



 


Katrine, Surf Søstre community girl, @katrine_sch


How many years have you been surfing before you got pregnant and how far in your pregnancy did you surf?

I started surfing in Sri Lanka in 2016, around 5 years before I got pregnant. I surfed until I was four months in and the feelings and thoughts of motherhood suddenly hit me on all kinds of levels ….



Did you have any worries or thoughts about being pregnant and becoming a mother, when also having a passion for surfing?

I had an expectation for myself that I should do the things I wanted to do for as long as possible, especially surfing, skateboarding and horse riding. But all of a sudden it dawned on me that I was responsible for a small creature, and right there you are completely and utterly alone in that responsibility. So when I stood in Hasle harbor on the beautiful island Bornholm and jumped out from the big rocks on my board. It suddenly occurred to me that I had the potential to harm my child by playing the sport that I love so much by landing accidentally. I know the child is well protected, but if something were to happen to me, was it really worth it? Unfortunately it became the last weekend on the surfboard for me in a while.


Besides that, I had thought about not being able to surf for a longer period of time (the last months before term and at least 2 months after term.) But what mostly played tricks on my mind was the future with a small child and the great desire to travel in the form of backpacking and surf trips. In other words, in relation to how I could combine travel and children. If it were actually possible to travel with a backpack, board, my man and our baby/child, it will of course never be the same as before, but would it be just as good, maybe even better? I have been well aware that I will not be able to travel for exactly the same budget as before, which will then result in fewer travel days.

Therefore, I have also considered for many years moving closer to the waves of the North Sea, to have the opportunity to have a family life, but at the same time have the opportunity to go out and surf more often. Hopefully my daughter will want to jump on a surfboard one day too .



Which challenges do you meet being a new mom and maybe wanting to go surfing again or do you feel peace knowing the day will come again eventually?

I try to find peace in the fact that I know that my time will probably come back around, but I also know that it must be planned much better than before and the possibilities will not be quite the same as long as she is so small. With that being said, I still feel a pinch of irritability when I know the waves are pumping out there, both here in Zealand and in Bornholm and I have no opportunity to take the board under my arm and jump in.


Do you and your family have any surf trips planned in the pipeline?

We are going to the North Sea with the whole family, so hopefully I will be back on the board in week 6. As we are a big family, I hope I can entice a family member to have fun with Karla, while Kennet and I can go out together. Below that, the three of us will go to klitmøller and Vorupør from April 1-9, where we can hopefully surf a bit (in turns)


In the summer holidays (July/August) we currently have 7 weeks of holiday, which we expect on the drawing board to drive to France camping in a tent, maybe a cabin for a short period. We dream of being able to have a lot of fun on the beach so we’re able to take turns having fun with Karla and surfing. I imagine our packed little Peugeot Donald Duck style driving through the alps with 4 boards on the roof, a tent, baby Karla and a overexcited pair of parents 😂



Last but not least, do you have any concerns about jumping in the water again after your body has been through a lot carrying and giving birth to a baby?

Yes, I definitely have concerns about that, since I haven't had the same time to train after I gave birth and since my abs are still separated, my body just doesn't work like it used to. Therefore, Kennet and I have also bought a longboard as a birthday present for each other, which I will probably currently use, as I definitely do not expect to have the strength in my body to get on my mid length board or short board.


Word of advice to other surf mamas?

A small topic I thought was important to talk about is that, not only you lose a little bit of your identity, you also get a completely new one, but it can be super difficult for a period of time to become a mother, I love my daughter unimaginably much, and it is so amazing and life-affirming to have her. But for me it has been incredibly difficult to accept that for a period of time I am "only a mother", that she needs me 24/7, that there is no possibility of just taking the skateboard under my arm, or taking the pram to the skating rink, because right now I just have a daughter who doesn't think it's super cool to lie in a stationary pram. But everything is luckily temporary and everything changes all the time. I get closer every single day to finding a balance between being a great mom and "just being me.



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