Back on the Board for First Surf Competition Post-Baby, Bethany Hamilton Is 'Loving the Adjustment' to Motherhood

The surf champion is set to compete in her first official event, the Swatch Women's Pro, since welcoming son Tobias

Bethany Hamilton is ready to compete in her first official surfing event since becoming a mom.

The surfing champion — who welcomed son Tobias with husband Adam Dirks in June — is taking part in the World Surf League‘s Swatch Women’s Pro, which kicks off on Wednesday in San Diego. Hamilton has also been awarded the wildcard for the competition.

“I’m super honored to receive the wildcard and to be able to compete at Lowers with all of the girls. It should be an epic time,” Hamilton, 25, tells PEOPLE. “I really am just looking forward to getting into the jersey.”

And of course Hamilton’s biggest fans — Dirks and their 3-month-old son — will be watching.

“They’re definitely going to come down and cheer me on,” she shares. “I’m so thankful for the support from my husband. He’s been so supportive — [I’ve been] training and prepping for the event — so I’m stoked to have them here.”

Bethany Hamilton pregnant expecting first child Adam Dirks

Mike Coots for Cobain

But even with the added help of her husband, a youth minister, the new mom says she has to block off specific surfing times.

“Having a baby, you pretty much have to plan ahead everything, especially [since I’m] nursing him. I’m attached to him in a sense because I have to nurse him every two to three hours,” she explains.

“So I’ll feed him and go surf for a little bit, and try to get back in time or sometimes we’ll pump a bottle and my husband will take over.”

She adds, “[It’s] definitely such a big adjustment. Even surfing, I’ll just be thinking of him. I’ll get back from the beach and I’m like, ‘Oh, I’ve missed you little guy!’ ”

And Hamilton — who says she “took it really easy the first month” — is now squeezing in workouts during her baby boy’s naptimes.

“I really valued resting after having Tobias,” she explains. “I started to ease my way back into getting active and getting back to my normal me. Then, getting the wildcard for the contest added this whole other level of motivation and determination to getting fit and prepared for the contest and surfing. I actually feel really good now. I feel really confident and healthy.”

But there are plenty of parts of motherhood that are still a work in progress: Like juggling the demands of a newborn baby with her busy schedule.

“It’s definitely still something I’m figuring out,” Hamilton, who lost her left arm to a tiger shark at 13, says.

“We did our first plane ride the other day — flying out here for the contest. We were planning to leave 45 minutes earlier than we normally would and we didn’t pull it off,” the first-time mom admits.

“It ended up being a dramatic car ride. It was fine, but it was just like, ‘Okay, we really have to give ourselves that extra time.’ ”

And even though the new parents are still learning the ropes of raising their son, Hamilton couldn’t be happier with her new role.

“I’m so thankful for him,” she says. “It’s been a lot of fun. I’m loving the adjustment, even though it can be overwhelming and tiring at times — it’s all still worth it.”

As for sleep? The couple “tries to sleep in as long as Tobias sleeps [and] sometimes, we’ll try to nap with him,” says the surf champion.

“Last night, we had an awake time from 4 to 5:30 [a.m.] so that wasn’t much appreciated,” she jokes. “I think parents get used to that sleeplessness. We’ll get anywhere from five to seven hours so it’s really not that bad, but I definitely love eight to nine hours. You learn to get used to it.”

Getting her baby boy on a solid sleep schedule hasn’t been easy. But the time spent trying to comfort her son — who had colic early on — also helped Hamilton learn his language.

“It was a lot more challenging than I thought it would be,” she admits. “Tobias started off a bit colicky. Sometimes, he would be fussing for hours on end. We spent a lot of time walking him in the carrier and just trying to get him to go to sleep.”

She continues, “It’s such a big adjustment and learning curve to learn [about] your new baby, especially your first baby, because it’s also new to you,” she shares. “But overall, he’s been a pretty good baby and now he’s growing out of that phase.”

And although the proud parents, who came in third on last year’s Amazing Race 25, are still getting to know Tobias’ personality, Hamilton knows she has a talker on her hands.

“He gets really talkative in the morning. He’ll just be squealing and making all sorts of cute noises,” she says. “I love it.”

“He’s very observant whenever we go out with a big group of people or our family — he’s never fussy during that time even if he should be napping at that point. He’ll just sit there, look around and be pretty content.”

As for the best part about mommyhood?

“Just being a mom and dad, together with my husband,” she explains. “It’s been such a special time bonding together as a family. There’s this love between Adam and I that’s a new, fresh love. We’re just infatuated with our child, and sharing the journey and learning together. It’s pretty awesome.”

She adds, “It’s been a lot of fun — and challenging, but mostly fun. We’re really stoked.”

For exclusive event highlights and to watch competitions, visit or the WSL app.

— Mariah Haas

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