A friend pointed out to me that the dismay that greeted mother Paula Radcliffe’s New York marathon win was not simply focused on the fact that she ran while pregnant. After all, Radcliffe is the world record holder in the women’s marathon. Not many women run while pregnant, but not many women are professional runners, period.
Although attention is focused on the fact that Radcliffe ran while pregnant, it is also her status as mother that is treated as stunning. At the race's finish, both Radcliffe and second place finisher Gete Wami were asked to comment on motherhood.
Beyond the assumption that pregnancy is a disability (one that women are not expected to recover from, apparently), it’s also assumed that motherhood is incompatible with having a professional life.