Kerri Walsh Jennings: I’m Planning on (Another) Natural Delivery

01/25/2013 at 11:00 AM ET

Kerri Walsh Jennings: I'm Planning on (Another) Natural Delivery
Joe Kohen/Invision/AP

Already mom to two boys and with another baby on the way, Kerri Walsh Jennings‘s winnings have been a true family affair.

The three-time Olympic gold medalist — who’s expecting a girl in April — and her husband Casey Jennings have committed to a tag-team effort with their sons that allows for the couple to win big both in their professional and personal lives.

“It’s always been my dream in life to be a working mom and have this amazing career,” Walsh Jennings, 34, tells WebMD.

Bringing the boys — Joseph, 3½, and Sundance, 2½ — and Walsh’s sister as the family’s nanny out on the road has helped with the hectic schedules. “In 2011 they went wherever we went: all around the world, from China to Brazil to Europe,” she says.

“My husband and I want to keep playing and go for the gold in Rio as well, so we’ll hopefully see a lot more places as a family. That’s my dream.”

With all their worldly travels, it’s London that holds a special place for Walsh Jennings. Not only did she score her third consecutive gold, but the volleyball superstar also discovered she was pregnant with her third child.

“I knew as well as I could know without getting it confirmed. I was late, about a couple of days late, and then I got more and more late,” she recalls. “When I’d sneeze, I’d feel a pain in my tummy muscles. I thought, ‘Hey, this only happens when I’m pregnant!'”

Once the media frenzy over her record-breaking win died down and the mom-to-be was back home, things took a very unexpected turn.

“The second it was confirmed I was pregnant, I started feeling sick. I had that mild hangover feeling all day long, which I never had with the boys,” Walsh Jennings shares. “My face is definitely different, too. I have acne this time around, which isn’t that great. My son will say, ‘Ouchies, Mommy?’

While it’s been a rough start, Walsh Jennings, who is planning on her third natural delivery, is hopeful her labor will go smoothly.

“Having a natural childbirth just feels right to me; it doesn’t feel like I’m forcing anything,” she explains. “My mom had eight kids — five of her own and she carried three for her sister — and she loved being pregnant .. She’d tell me that labor kind of hurts, but you’re going to love it. I always thought she was delusional, but she was right.”

Her steadfast commitment to getting back in shape is motivated by the upcoming 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where Walsh Jennings will be back on the sandy shores for another go at the gold.

“I look at [working out] as my job even when I’m not in the season or in training. After this pregnancy I do want to be able to hit the ground running and be as strong as I can be,” she explains. “Plus, working out helps with labor and helps with my mental and emotional state while I’m pregnant.”

But even with all her exercise plans post-pregnancy, the expectant mama does allow herself to indulge on occasion, especially when it comes to her cravings.

“Breakfast sandwiches. I could eat them all day every day,” she says. “I think I’ve had at least one every week since I’ve been pregnant, with crispy bacon and an egg over medium on toast, with tomato and avocado. That’s just heaven!”

— Anya Leon

FILED UNDER: Maternity , News , Parenting

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shayne on

Why is having a natural birth such a big deal? Woman do it all the time! They even birth at home or in out of hospital birthing centers!! Amazing right? While I know that this is the best way for you and your child to birth (those drugs you ladies cry for the moment you have one contraction is really bad for your child and your labor) I do not think this is something to make a story about. If that is the case I have a list of ladies who are superstars for having natural deliveries.

Elspeth on

Shayne, are you seriously a guy commenting on childbirth? Pass a kidney stone naturally, multiply that by 100, and then come back.

K on

Seriously, male commentator, please never give an opinion on childbirth again. Just don’t. Thank you!

Noodles! on

Love Kerri Walsh! We rooted hard for her and Misty May Treanor during the Olympics and it was so fun to see her passion throughout the games. She seems like she brings that same passion toward raising her family the way she and her husband want. What an inspiration she’ll be to her daughter!

Snowbird on

I have had 6 friends who were all “I’m doing it natural” then the pain starts. 4 of the 6 all got their epi’s before it was too late. The other 2 were too late before they asked for it. Both have said they would never do it to theselves again. Good luck, but don’t wait to long or you will be going to the end without any assistance.

I don’t understand the mentality of “I want to do it naturally” – its safe for the baby and more so for the mother.

Susan on

I wish her a very happy delivery! She seems like a very down to earth person. That breakfast sandwich sounds delicious. I’d have to step up my workouts to eat that regularly. Although its not an issue for her, she is in great shape. I hope she enjoys this time with her family!

duh on

oh good – now I can go on with my day.

Kathy on

All childbirth is “natural.” It really bothers me that women put up these artificial divides over something so personal as giving birth. They wave the “natural” flag as if their way of giving birth is vastly superior to another woman’s way of giving birth.

Jeez, I thought we were beyond that.

KF on

Why in the world would anyone outside her family care how she’s planning to deliver her baby? Why is this a story? TMI, IMHO…

egc on

labor “kinda hurts”? ya think

Alissa on

So happy for her! I hope she is able to continue on as heart desires…and I can’t wait to see her play in Rio!

Sandy on

now I need to go make a breakfast sandwhich!!

Molly on

If she does play in Rio, I really hope its with Misty again!!

Mabby on

I hope she able to continue and have a natural childbirth. Not all women are able to do so – many complications can arise making it impossible. I detect a rather sanctimonious tone in her comment. She should, rather, consider herself very fortunate that her kids were born naturally with no major problems. I’m not suggesting that it was not hard work for her to deliver her kids “naturally.” There’s no way she can tell what will happen this time.

She also is at a great advantage in that she has a helpful sister who makes travel possible for her. Most all young mothers do not have such a perk. I do wish her well, of course, but I think she should carefully think about what she says.

By the way, with the world population being what it is and with so many children in need, I rather hope she and her husband will consider adoption if they wish to have more children.

Lauren on

What does adoption have to do with the story? If Kerri and her husband want to have more children, why can’t they have biological children? They are lucky enough to be able to have children since so many people have infertility issues. Not everyone wants to adopt.

Cristina on

It’s important for women to really experience natural delivery. It’s more than just healthy for the baby, but like Ms Walsh said, it’s painful but you’ll love it in the end.

My first I had an edidural and pushed for hours and hours because I didn’t feel anything. Afterwards I felt SO drained and sore. The second time around I had my baby at home so there was no option for epidural (I think if I was in a hospital, I would have asked for it for sure). I pushed the baby out in 10 minutes and felt great afterward!

Bubbles on

Natural delivery is NOT HEALTHIER FOR THE BABY Cristina!!

Stop telling that to yourself and anyone who will listen…it’s not true and it makes you sound like a b$$ch.

CAit on

Someone’s mad they couldn’t handle the pain lmao

Summer on

Eh, you don’t get an award for pain. Why go through it if it’s not necessary? That’s like not taking antibiotics when you have an infection. This isn’t 1852. It’s fine for the baby. If it wasn’t then why do doctors have it during their own deliveries? The only reason people like her and Gisele brag about it is to feel superior to other women. The mommy wars continue…

Meli on

I couldn’t agree more Summer!!

Lori on

Snore. I could hardly remember who she is.

I am only mildly interested in her or anyone else’s personal views on anything child birth related. Really, PEOPLE. Snore. Big time.

nan on

Omg she is like the moms at pre school trying to one up all the others! I had all mine babies natural! And i always dreamed of being a working mom with a great career! Has anyone asked the sister / nanny her dreams?

My babies were born and if you want to have yours natural, assisted or otherwise, be you working or stay at home! Im not in mommyhood to make you think you were wrong in your choices!

Lily on

@shayne, sadly, in the US having a natural childbirth IS a big deal, because so many women & doctors shy away from it. According to the World Health Organization, the US has the highest per capita mom/babe mortality rate in devoloped nations, the highest c-section rate, the least amount of home births & the least amount of midwives per capita.

Yes, there are times when c-sections & epidurals are neccessary, & we’re thankful for the lives that they do save, but sadly, too many women are having these things in order to take the “easy way”. Tori Spelling is a classic example of almost dying due to complications of multiple c-sections.

Mandy on

There are serious risks to hospital interventions. Epidurals included. There is nothing safe about injecting something into the epidural space to make you numb. There’s a precise amount of fluid in the epidural space and adding to it will give you the worst headache of your life, you also run the risk of infection since you are introducing foreign objects into that normally are not there. If the doctor doesn’t do it right you are looking at a lifetime of pain at the very least, possible paralization, and even death for a bit of pain relief.

The reality of a drug free or natural childbirth is to not run the risk of these dangerous risks, even the blood pressure of the mother crashing which happens so frequently. Birth has only become a risky business because of these interventions. However, if you read up on the risks and KNOW what you are getting into before hand and are willing to take those risks, then by all means go ahead. Just know what you are getting into and don’t believe a doctor when s/he tells you there are no risks, there are risks to everything including a natural drug free birth.

Every mom gets to make her own decisions on child birth and the ability to birth the WAY they want, and to have her voice heard on the birth she had whether it was good or bad. It’s her experience to go through.

If you guys hate her for that I’m going to be REALLY hated then, because I had a horrible c section for a placental abruption July 2011, which ultimately killed my daughter. My best chance at a VBAC is to stay at home and since we can’t pay out $3,000-4,000 for a home birth midwife I’m going unassisted, meaning no one but me, my husband, my mom, and a doula are attending the birth in my home.

I refuse to stick myself in a hospital where I can be subjected to torture treatments against my will, since I know many care providers like to speed up labor by giving pitocin which is very dangerous for a VBAC momma since 99% of the 1% who have a uterine rupture had pitocin. They have been known to hang it and not tell the mother they did it. Pitocin carries it’s own risks, it’s just up to all moms to look into and research everything and KNOW what she’s getting into for her birth.

Sophia on

Mandy, I had a beautiful unassisted birth this past August with my third son. My husband and I agree it was the best decision we ever made. I had previously had two traumatic hospital births and decided to go unassisted after months of research. Best of luck to you, it really is an amazing experience.

Misstissie on

Oh shut up Mandy. I had my son a month ago, with an epidural, and I never had “the worst headache of my life” or any other issue. It’s not unsafe or problematic at all, and if someone wants to have an epidural it is none of your business. Bet you wouldn’t turn down anesthesia during surgery, which is FAR more dangerous and causes more complications than epidural.

How someone else chooses to have their kid doesn’t involve anyone but that person and their doctor. I don’t understand why so many women slam other women over this issue.

kh in sj on

Mandy- I don’t know where you live, but many midwives will offer their services for a home birth on a sliding-scale fee, based on ability to pay. At the very least, it’s worth looking in to. Good luck to you.

alisonstrategy on

so many unhappy posters on – too bad everyone has to air their snarky opinions and not just enjoy reading about something other than their own miserable lives…

Lynnlynn on

If you want and are able to have a natural birth, then more power to you. However, not all women can do this. The simple fact is, some people have a much higher pain threshold than others do. What is mildly uncomfortable for one woman can be excruciating and unbearable for another. It is a scientifically proven fact: not everyone feels pain to the same degree.

It’s not a matter of lack of willpower or “taking the easy way out” to NEED an epidural to bring your child into the world. Anyone who suggests otherwise is either one of the very lucky few who have that high pain tolerance, or has never experienced childbirth themselves. Be thankful you’ve never been in that kind of agony, and quit judging everyone else who has.

Mabby on

In reply to Lauren: With the world population being what it is, I think it’s best if parents have 2 children (this replaces themselves in the population.) If they wish to have further children, that’s fine – but why be so selfish as to continue to reproduce themselves? Where is it written that, just because you seem to be able to have healthy children, you should continue to reproduce yourselves again and again? Many children who would not have loving homes if people did not adopt children who need care and nurturing. Rather than continue to produce more and more children, why don’t people with at least 2 or 3 kids try to help other youngsters who need homes if they wish to have larger families. Doesn’t this just make good sense?

Beth on

Seriously, do we need to know everyone’s birth plans? Good for her. A lot of us wanted natural births and they just didn’t happen. WE KNOW it is best for the baby and mother. I guess I am just bitter.

Renee on

Kerri..GOOD for you, for understanding your body was MADE for birthing babies. It is NOT a disease, it is NOT something that needs to be medicated or needs to end in major surgery in about 25% of the cases. Anyone who has a baby and half educates themselves knows that meds and surgery are NOT best for your baby.

We live in a world where pain is NOT ever supposed to happen and nothing good can come from it. We also live in a world where women are so brainwashed by Drs/Hospitals..about what their bodies can do and what is safe. It drives me NUTS.

This is coming from an ‘old’ mom. Lost my first at 16 weeks (had every test done, known to mankind because of my ‘advanced age’..pregnancy was miserable), had my first born son via emergency c-section at 39..(let my Dr convince me to induce…and had typical outcome) had my daughter at 41 at home O’NATURAL (oh, by the way..this means no meds and vaginally to me) without even an ultrasound. I am now pregnant again and due in 5 weeks at 43. This one was HUGE surprise. Anyway..we will have this one, God willing, at home too.

Do you women know that most Drs don’t even birth a baby naturally EVER during their training? I truly believe they have NO idea how to birth babies without meds and surgery…and their goal is to do it fast, without pain, and surgery is more than okay to them. It is sooooo sad.

Women that get all defensive about women who want to birth naturally…sadly, are the ones that have bought into the culturally new way of thinking. ‘Why have any pain, hospitals are the only safe place to have a baby, and your body can’t do it’. ie; your baby is too big, your cervix fails to progress, your baby is in distress… YES, hospitals are vital and hospitals save some babies and mothers. BUT, a huge percentage of c-sections are due to medications and simply Drs just wanting to ‘get it over with’.

Having been through both types of births…personally, I think a c-section was MUCH easier…I didn’t have any problems and was driving and picking up baby next day. Childbirth was DAMN hard…and yes, painful. You moms, who have babies a different way ask “What is the big deal”…”why is one mom better than the other”. They aren’t. There is a VERY big difference in mentality, simply.

To me, there is NO reason to open me up without letting my try to birth naturally. To me, there is no reason to put meds into my body that clearly aren’t good for me or the baby ultimately. To me….I don’t even take antibiotics when sick..I simply don’t like drugs. I think pain is a part of life, discomfort is something no one seems to be able to deal with anymore. If there isn’t a pill to make it better….then that is a problem this day in age. I think it simply depends on where your heart/mind/soul stand with regards to your body and health.

Anyone who does any amount of reading…will find that having a baby naturally is best for ALL involved. But, you will still have women talk distastefully about women that are proud to have their babies without intervention. Yes, there are women that are high risk, that absolutely need hospitals..but, ladies..I am sorry to say…most of us are JUST fine to have babies without intervention and yes, with some pain. It is just the kind of person you are and where your convictions lie…that direct how you want your birth to be.

For me, I am so happy I had a home birth and even though when I found out I was pregnant again…I literally thought..NO WAY am I doing that again… I simply know, there is no way I will do it any other way. There is just ‘something’ so special and so ‘right’ about it…simple as that.

To me, anything natural is better….whether that is a face to face conversation with someone instead of text, whether that is eating something that grew from the earth vs in a box, whether that is having a baby vaginally without meds vs in a hospital being treated like some sick person instead of a pregnant lady, whether that is having a cough for two weeks vs taking every medication possible to get it to go away fast. It is simply a mindset…not that someone is better than someone else. To me, there is clearly one way that is better for a woman than the other.

With all that said..I am still scared to birth this baby…ouch! But, I will do it:-)

Tina on

It’s a sad state of affairs when natural childbirth is not the norm. Many of us women have done it more than once, and didn’t make a public announcement because THIS IS WHAT WOMEN WERE CREATED TO DO.

Kelly on

what is most important is the health of mother and baby during birth…not whether you were able to withstand the pain of it. Thank goodness for c-sections or my two kids would not be here and I may not either. No woman should feel guilty for not having a “natural” childbirth. Birth is birth regardless…as long as mom and baby come out of it healthy and happy who the heck cares if mom had an epidural or not? Or whether she gave birth at home or in a hospital or by emergency C-section.

Kim on

Well said Kelly!!

sacha laine on

She must have high tolerance for pain because labor is a bitch. More power to her.

Guest on

When over 90% of women birth with an epidural, having a natural child birth is kind of news.

And hopefully more women can talk about their natural birth stories so that birth can go back to its physiologic state.

Lauren on

Hey Guest, I’m sure you want to see infant mortality rates back down to those levels too?

Jesus, you natural birth momanazis are so judgemental, preachy, and downright STUPID. Bad news- your drug-free birthing trophies all got lost in the mail. Because NOBODY CARES.

Carol on

You women are slaying me about on the best way to birth your baby. As a woman who suffered from infertility and was never able to concieve a child, I would gladly trade places with any of you. I wouldn’t care if the baby was coming vaginally, or by c-section, as long as he or she was healthy.

Instead of trying to run each other down because of the way you gave birth (or the way someone else gave birth), why don’t you just be thankful you have the opportunity to give life to a child. All of you have had the opportunity to experience something that I will never, ever experience. I will never know the joy of telling my husband that we are expecting; We (my husband & I) will never know the joy of telling our parents that they will be grandparents; I will never get to know what it is like to have a child that I created with the man I love moving inside of me; I will never have the opportunity to give birth.

Maybe if some of you walked in my shoes, you would not be so zealous about how others give birth. Be thankful for what you have been given; it is truly a gift.

Anonymous on

Lauren- I hate to break it you, but the U.S., as Lily pointed out, has the HIGHEST infant mortality rate of any developed country in the world! And guess what? Most of that is due to the alarming trend of unneccesary interventions and C-sections in this country (if you want proof of that, just Google the statistics of midwives, who DON’T perform a lot of C-sections or other interventions. You will find that mothers who seek their care have much lower rates of mortality for themselves and their babies than those who go to doctors!)!

So while I can’t speak for Guest (obviously!), I, for one, would LOVE to see infant mortality rates go back to what they were before birth started being treated like a medical emergency (and just to clarify, I don’t mean before C-sections or other life-saving measures. I mean back when doctors were actually sensible enough not to do those things unless they were absolutely neccesary!)!

C-sections and other labor interventions (the former of which I almost certainly wouldn’t be here without, nor would my brother or mother) are great…when they’re actually needed. But most of the time they aren’t….and it’s high time we woke up, realized that, and did something about it!

Anonymous on

Mandy- I couldn’t have said it better myself! There are risks to ANY drug, whether we want to think so or not!

lovely123 on

“She’d tell me that labor kind of hurts, but you’re going to love it”, you love the finished product of labor. It is getting there that really hurts!

lovely123 on

I will take being in a hospital verses at home any day of the week.

Robin on

I knew the minute I read this headline that it would spark the natural vs. epidural vs. c-section debate…as long as you have a healthy baby seriously, that is all that matters…jeesh people get a grip…applause if you had a natural birth…applause if you had an epidural…applause if you had a c-section and stop the mudslinging okay?

Marky on

Mandy, I have no idea what you think would have happened with a placental abruption if you had been at home with a midwife, but the end result would have been the same. At least the doctors did everything they could to save your baby, even if it was unsuccessful. You are blaming the doctors for even trying? How crazy is that!?

The other thing I would like to say, as a retired L&D nurse is that I have NEVER seen a doctor or a nurse start pitocin without a thorough discussion with the mother, and frankly, I have grave questions as to where you ever got your information. When doing a VBAC after an emergency c-section, you are risking uterine rupture, and infant death, and that is a fact. Hope you and your husband are prepared for that, as well.

You’re indicating people are subjected to “torture treatments against their will”, well, you had a uniquely frightening experience which necessitated emergency treatment or you could have both died. That treatment wasn’t meant to be torture, but life-saving and even then, as you know, both cannot always be saved.

You need to seek some counseling and not smear every doctor and nurse with inappropriate labels acting as if they are murderers, while you risk the life of you and your child by choosing your own route. For you and your child’s sake, I hope it works out okay.

ANJ on

If you want a natural childbirth, fine. Some woman can do it, others cannot (changes in brain chemistry and natural endorphins vary from person to person).

As for woman giving birth without hospitals and doctors for thousands of years, they also routinely died.

I don’t want to take the risk for my child or myself and will be thankful I have hospital facilities and medical interventions, if needed.


Mandy on

If I wasn’t trying to be a midwife to change the way some women and men think, I wouldn’t even be talking to you guys about this since obviously the vast majority are sheep and do what you’re told without questioning why and making your own mind up for what you want. Just go ahead and live in your own head then and just always do what others want you to do then.

Anonymous on

Marky- You don’t know any of the details about Mandy’s emergency C-section other than that it was AN emergency one and done due to a placental abruption. The way she worded things, it sounds like it was the C-section, not the abruption, that killed her daughter.

That in turn suggests that while the doctors obviously DID mean for the C-section to be life-saving, they likely made some poor choices when it came to how to go about performing it.

Mal-practice DOES happen on occasion, and there ARE bad doctors out there (there are also plenty of good ones, and I agree that it isn’t right to paint all doctors with the same brush!), unfortunately!

Anonymous on

Misstissie- I’m sorry, but I fail to see what Mandy said that warranted you being so rude to her. And obviously you didn’t read her whole comment. Because if you did, you would have seen this part:

“However, if you read up on the risks and KNOW what you are getting into before hand and are willing to take those risks, then by all means go ahead. Just know what you are getting into and don’t believe a doctor when s/he tells you there are no risks, there are risks to everything including a natural drug free birth. ”

It seems pretty clear, to me at least, that all she was trying to do was educate people about the importance of making an informed decision about things like epidurals!

annie on

I see the defensive mothers who prefer drug interventions are out in force on the comments section. Please, ask yourself why you find it impossible to accept that some women prefer to birth without medical intervention and why you can’t just be happy for women who are able to follow their birth plans. It is clear to me that there is a lingering sense of guilt and/or “failure” on your part that is causing you to be so hateful to someone you have never met and who is making no judgements.