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How Athletes Get Back in the Game After Pregnancy

Little is said about the incredible achievement of athletes who return to their sport after having children—nor the huge strain it can place on a woman's career.
March 8, 2017, 6:45pm

The first time I met my niece, I asked my sister what the birth was like. She looked me dead in the eye with the kind of chilling stare usually reserved for military veterans retelling the horrors they saw in action. After describing the different degrees of vaginal tearing a woman could potentially sustain when pushing out an eight-pound baby, she tried to reassure me with the comforting words: "Most women will tear to some extent during childbirth".

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Suffice to say, pregnancy and giving birth are probably the hardest challenges a body can undertake. After this display of superhuman physical fortitude, one might rightly expect to enjoy a break – to get a bit of rest while finally tearing into all the raw fish, soft cheese and hard booze you've been missing for nine months.

Not if you're Jessica Ennis-Hill. The heptathlete won gold at the IAAF World Championships in 2015, just nine months after returning to training following the birth of her son Reggie. Ennis-Hill confessed that she found the period after Reggie's birth – during which she had to get back to training and give up breastfeeding – incredibly tough. So tough, in fact, that she even considered quitting athletics altogether.

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