The new mother’s amazing performance surprised her – a snappy response from a Finnish doctor to the naysayers | Sport

The new mothers amazing performance surprised her a snappy

The Biathlon World Cup continues today, Thursday at 18:45 with the mixed relay. Live broadcast on TV2, Areena and the app.

When the Biathlon World Cup started last week in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic, there was an interesting surprise at the start of the competition. Latvian Baiba Bendika32, was fifth in the women’s sprint race.

It was the best achievement of Bendika’s career in value competitions. Previously, he had been ninth at his best, in the combined start in 2021 and in the pursuit in 2020. Also from the World Cup, Bendika’s best individual ranking is fifth.

Now the Latvian made headlines especially because she is a new mother. She gave birth to her first child at the end of October.

Julia Simon, Justine Braisaz-Bouchet and Lou Jeanmonnot grabbed a triple victory for France, but for example Aftonbladet wrote, that Bendika was the “big sensation†of the sprint race. A Swedish newspaper asked Bendika if he believed in World Cup success a few months ago.

– I wished I had “mom power†, because I have seen other biathletes succeed soon after giving birth. I wanted to do the same.

– I am super happy. This feels fantastic. Lovely.

“Pregnancy is not a disease.”

After giving birth, Bendika’s return to the top has been fast and furious.

In the end, it’s not a big miracle, says the sports medicine specialist Katja Mjösund.

– This is not terribly wonderful. This has happened before in several endurance sports.

By day, Mjøsund is the doctor in charge of the Helsinki Olympic Training Center. In addition, he has worked as a doctor for a long time in the Finnish national biathlon team and in the national orienteering team.

Mjösund recently returned from Nove Mesto, so he knows that Bendika’s return was a big topic at the World Cup venue. Mjösund was also asked about the subject. Even the scarecrows were enough.

Mjösund wants to remove the stigma. The athlete is not a monster himself, even if he quickly returns to his profession. It’s pointless to be afraid, because it is possible to return, even if the priority is the health of the child and the mother.

– You can’t set standards for anything here. Pregnancy is not a disease.

The return schedule is determined especially by the health of the mother and child during pregnancy, the course of the birth and how the mother has been able to exercise while pregnant.

Bendika updated social media diligently during her pregnancy, so it was known that she was able to train well. Aftonbladet asked the Latvian if it was important for her to prove that she can become a mother and fight for World Cup medals.

– It has been my dream for a long time. It’s wonderful to be an athlete and a mother. Of course it’s challenging, but it’s a different and wonderful feeling when you have a family.

Skiing is kinder to the body

Mjösund says that in training during pregnancy, one does not aim for big improvements, but one strives to maintain performance.

– If you have been able to maintain good muscle strength and basic endurance and the birth has gone well, it is possible to get in quite good shape in four months. in such a sport.

In addition to the opportunity to exercise during pregnancy and recovery from childbirth, a support network plays an important role. The return is smoother if the athlete has enough helping hands. An athlete needs sufficient recovery and sleep.

Bendika admitted that the return was not easy, but the most important thing was quality training and a good plan without stress.

– My son is with me at the World Cup. His grandparents are here as babysitters. It’s really nice when the family is involved in the games.

The return schedule is very species-dependent. Quick return is more common especially in endurance sports like biathlon.

There is a risk of trauma in several sports, while skiing is kinder to a pregnant woman’s body. Many are able to ski until the end of their pregnancy and return to the slopes faster after giving birth compared to, for example, running.

– Normal endurance training during pregnancy is the job of a healthy mother, Mjösund reminds.

– On the other hand, if you think about sports like, say, balance beam gymnastics, you can’t practice it in the same way when pregnant, so it takes longer to restore performance and mid-body strength.

Mjösund is not able to give time frames for how quickly or slowly the return to sports in any sport can be successful.

– And I don’t want pressure to be placed on sportswomen, because it is so individual.

– In endurance sports, four months is not an impossible return time, but no one should have such an expectation. Some take a year. Some rise clearly above their previous level. For some, it is more difficult to combine motherhood and career, and the return is not possible.

There are many sports in which athletes generally do not even consider having children during their careers. Endurance athletes typically have a longer career. An endurance athlete can be at his best at an older age, when more training years have been accumulated.

Then starting a family will more likely become relevant during your career.

Myth about breast hormones

There are indeed numerous examples of women who have risen to a new level in their sports career.

– A lot of people always remember to mention that they are now those “mammy hormones†when someone is better after having a child, Mjösund laughs.

Instead of mammary hormones, the reason may be on the spiritual side, when a new dimension comes into life. It might make sports more relaxed and affect how the athlete reacts to expectations and pressure.

– Finnish athletes in particular are so conscientious and accomplished. Finns are not very merciful to failure. It may be that completing the competition becomes easier when there is something in life that weighs even more.

The physical changes caused by pregnancy, which have been claimed to be beneficial for sports, disappear in about six weeks. Pregnancy increases, for example, the plasma volume of the blood, but even that has time to equalize before the athlete who has given birth has time to return to competition.

– There are no permanent physiological changes from having children.

That’s why the expert says that the help of maternal hormones for elite sports is a myth. During early pregnancy, the athlete experiences changes that could theoretically improve performance, but at the same time there are already negative changes in terms of elite sports, such as the growth of the pregnant belly and possible nausea.

Has the atmosphere changed?

Also in Finland, the opportunity for top athletes to start a family is a topic of conversation from time to time. During an active career, it is still rare.

In 2022, he talked about why motherhood or pregnancy are not mentioned anywhere in the Olympic Committee’s instructions or in the ministry’s grant criteria.

Beach volleyball player Taru Lahti-Liukkonen felt that she was discriminated against in the distribution of the sports grant because of her motherhood. Triple Jumper Kristiina Mäkelä said that there is no such positive atmosphere in Finland that starting a family would be acceptable or permissible for an athlete.

Read also: Lotta Henttala would have been fired from her job if she had gotten pregnant

Mjösund feels that thinking has changed – maybe a little†. He raises orienteering as a model example, where there are a lot of elite athletes.

– A few years ago, the Finnish national team also had several babies in the prestigious competitions. Perhaps the general atmosphere is more understandable nowadays. Nowadays it is also known that exercise during pregnancy is good for the mother.

According to current research it is safe and recommended for all healthy expectant mothers to continue moderately vigorous exercise throughout a normal pregnancy. It prevents, for example, excessive weight gain, disturbances in glucose metabolism during pregnancy and depressive symptoms.

Mjösund is used to working with athletes who are expecting a child.

– I have had the honor of being in situations where I have heard about pregnancy at a very early stage. And then a plan has been made, but the plan is always based on the fact that the most important thing is the child’s health and normal development as well as the mother’s health.

That’s why the plans have to be made flexible. If everything goes well, then the perspective of top sports can also be planned.

– Let’s think about what can be done, what should be avoided, how to train. You can’t plan the time after giving birth until you know how it went and how the recovery is starting to go.