Pregnancy and elite sport - report

Findings from a new study aimed to support athletes during their partner’s pregnancy have been published.

The project, that started in early 2023, has been delivered in partnership with Loughborough University, Liverpool John Moores University, and UK Sport.

Led by Loughborough’s Dr Emma Pullen and Dr Kelly Massey, of LJMU’s School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, the report highlighted the experiences of Olympic and Paralympic athletes on UK Sport’s World Class Programme who have recently supported their partners throughout their pregnancy.

It was discovered that:

  • Athletes face significant challenges as they balance WCP commitments with supporting their partner prenatal and postpartum
  • Implications on athlete health and wellbeing, performance outcomes and equitable practice exist
  • There are opportunities for the development of athlete partner support and provision

“We hope the findings will support the development of the UK Sport Partner Guidance and the provision offered to athlete partners throughout their partner’s pregnancy journey,” the researchers said.

“These findings provide excellent conclusions and recommendations that will inform the inaugural UK Sport’s Partner Guidance which will be published in Spring 2024,” said UK Sport’s Alexandra Newman and Andri Rauber.

Through interviews participants were asked to highlight the challenges they have faced and how national governing bodies and other sporting organisations could offer better support.

Athletes were recruited across a spectrum of sports including hockey, cycling, para-cycling, wheelchair basketball, athletics, marathon running, para-rowing, and judo. The athletes interviewed shared their experiences from a range of perspectives. This included prenatal, postpartum, and early years.

The findings will now form the basis of UK Sport Partner Guidance, which will offer robust recommendations of how to support athlete partners on the World Class Programme. This will support heterosexual and same sex couples, those looking to foster and/or adopt, and couples at the very start of family planning.




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