Ana Yagües BJJ

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A pregnant view of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Being pregnant is a wonderful thing, a beautiful experience that every women should have at least once in her life. It is an amazing period of life which comes with lots of excitement and incredible feelings. Being pregnant is also a pain in the ass. If for a common women the truth is that being pregnant is a wonderful and difficult experience all at the same time, try to imagine what it means for a BJJ fighter (actually any kind of fighter)



I love being pregnant... and I also hate it, specially when watching my team partners roll during a training. It is like having a multiple personality disorder... As a women, when i am shopping, cooking at home or just hanging around with my friends, I enjoy every bit of it. But as a fighter, when I enter the academy, the joy decreases considerably. When I am on the mat I just used to feel out of shape, heavy and clumsy, I used to feel like a white belt in her first class even if I am already brown belt, I felt/feel jealous of all my friends having a good sparring or getting ready for a competition.

During my first pregnancy, I had to learn how to deal with this mental chaos.
I read it is normal for every pregnant women to have those mood swings because we are going through all kind of hormonal and physical changes that are hard to understand ever for us.
But knowing that it was normal, was not enough for me. I needed to learn a way to deal with it or I would go crazy. Back at the time, people told me to stop training BJJ for a while and just enjoy the pregnancy. You are pregnant and you can’t fight - they said.... hmmmm... I know they just cared about me and my baby and what not but... first, I am pregnant not invalid, second, I don't do BJJ because I have to, but because I love to and third, do you know that BJJ is way more than fighting, right?
So there was no way I was going to stop. I couldn't, the same I can’t now. Not as long as I and my baby are healthy.

And eventually I did find a way to feel better. When I entered the mat, I thought of my pregnancy as an “injury”... BOOM!...

wait, what did she say?...Yes, I know, it may sound to you as I am a cold women, an unnatural mum, but oh well, if you think that of me, you certainly don’t know me or my daughter...

This maybe idiotic but honest “mind trick” helped me as a BJJ fighter during my first pregnancy and is helping me now during the second. And this is why I share it with you, maybe it helps other female fighters too.
I had seen plenty of training partners with all kind of injuries and most of them, even if they are supposed to be resting at home (medical advice), they go to training and do whatever they can do. Anything that helps your BJJ to evolve, to feel alive, to do what you love the most. If you have a broken knee, you train your upper body part. If you have a broken hand, you train your legs. If you have back pain, you just do technique... and so on.
So I thought, why can’t it apply to me?

Now I am in the 21th week of my second pregnancy: 19 weeks more to go. And I haven’t stop training, as I didn’t during my first pregnancy. Of course, I slowed down from 6 times at week to 3-4 times at week. Of course, I stopped competing from the first day I found it out and I stopped sparring from the 8th week. But I train in many other ways and I will continue as long as I can.



So what can I do for my Jiu Jitsu?

First let me explain which are the symptoms of my “injury”.
I am by now 6 kg over my weight, 6 kg which are concentrated mostly on a single spot: a big belly. My lungs are compressed because of my growing abdomen, making it harder to breathe. The pressure of the uterus on the bladder makes me want to pee every hour. My kidneys are squashed between spine and uterus, which causes pain at some moments, liver is misplaced behind the ribs... and and and... Well, it is not my intention to scare you, actually it is not as bad as it sounds, I feel most of the time very good, hungry, but good. It is only a serie of facts that we have to consider when deciding what to train and what not.

So said that, I will list what I keep doing at this stage of my pregnancy:

1. I do 60-65% of the conditioning/strength training that everybody else does. This includes: gimnastica natural (shrimps, jacares, hips movements), push ups, grips exercises etc etc

    - I DON’T do sprawls, jumps, or any kind of sit-ups
    - I stop regularly to breath

2. I do 50% of the same drills than everybody else: arm- or leg-drags, toreada, knee on belly (I do it, of course i don’t let people do on me), all kind of open-guard drills, armbars or any technique from mount...

    - I DON’T do anything that put pressure on my belly: almost nothing related to close-guard nor rollling (not berimbolos and that   kind of stuff :-P)

3. l train 100% technique, just not every technique. For instance, I trained spider-guard last weeks, this week I am training open guard going to omoplata going to footlock.

4. I DON’T do any sparring, not even soft rolling. I did sparring until the 8th week, and I did soft rolling with selected people until the 15th week. But now it is too dangerous, so I don’t do it any more.

    - What I do is sitting and observing. I learn through my partners. I learn from their mistakes and from their good moves. I know, that is not so effective as making my own mistakes or my own good moves, but it is all I can do right now and believe me, it is much more than doing nothing.

5. After training, I just hang around with my training partners, talk about serious stuff like “what to do when” situations or joke about funny things like the new bjj term “shaubing” xD

6. I continue to go to seminars, f.e. I went to Ricardo Oliveira Seminar in Olot, Spain, last month when I was there visiting a friend, or I will be doing the IBJJF Referee Course in Rome next weekend.

And all that, makes me happy. And when I am happy, my family is happy ;)

It makes me to go out and feel that pregnancy is actually a wonderful thing and that BJJ is a wonderful thing too and that both are to some extent compatible with each other.
BJJ helps me to be a healthy mum-to-be too, it helps to prevent all kind of typical pregnancy side-effects like: overweight, backache, tired legs, restless legs at nights, vericose veins... NONE of them I had during the first pregnancy and for the moment none of them during this second time, plus to have an amazing quick post-partum recovery after delivery.

And I truly think, even if I don’t have an expert medical opinion on it, that BJJ had/has a lot to do with it.

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