The pregnancy advice hopes to help athletes and stop them being forced to make a choice between competing and starting a family; it follows an 18-month consultation process involving athletes, coaches and medical professionals
By PA Media
Last Updated: 23/11/21 8:13am
UK Sport has published pregnancy guidance for athletes and governing bodies, with chief executive Sally Munday stressing “no athlete should be forced to make a choice between elite sport and starting a family”.
The guidance provides advice to athletes about how and when to share their pregnancy with their sport, and recommends a framework before, during and after childbirth, including individuals returning to training and competition.
Any athlete receiving an Athlete Performance Award continues to receive their full APA throughout the duration of their pregnancy and for up to nine months post-childbirth.
UK Sport said the guidance had been published following an 18-month consultation process during which it had spoken to athletes, coaches and medical practitioners, and it was “not recommending a one-size-fits-all approach”.
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It recognised “requirements will vary significantly depending on the impact of the pregnancy, any delivery complications and the nature of the sport the athlete is returning to”.
Munday said in a UK Sport statement: “The publication of this pregnancy guidance for athletes and sports is an important marker for our high-performance community.
“We are committed to powering a diverse and inclusive Olympic and Paralympic family and no athlete should be forced to make a choice between elite sport and starting a family.
“Giving birth and starting a family can be physically and mentally challenging for a mother, so it is essential that female athletes, and sports, have the right resources at their disposal.
“We want to ensure that mothers and mothers-to-be are fully confident that they will be supported fairly and appropriately in all aspects of their life.”
Archer Naomi Folkard, who became a mother for the first time earlier this year before representing Great Britain at a fifth Olympics in Tokyo, said: “Societies’ belief system is changing for all types of equality issues the world over.
“One which is particularly close to my heart is that female athletes should no longer have to make a choice between their athletic career and having children, so I have been very lucky to have the opportunity to contribute to this UK Sport project.
“I hope in a short time that it will encourage sports science to not only begin to cover women and men equally but also have pregnancy-specific research projects for female athletes, with the expectation that this knowledge will filter into the general community and help pregnant women the country over become more confident in following their exercise plans.”
The guidance published includes information regarding during pregnancy and post-childbirth mental health, miscarriage and still birth and multiple pregnancies.
UK Sport also said it was aiming to “develop further guidance specifically on surrogacy, adoption, egg freezing, IVF, same-sex parents (as examples) and for partners”.