The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) has launched a major study into the impacts of pregnancy in high performance sport, with the research aiming to better support and increase career longevity for female athletes.
The comprehensive ‘Mum-Alete’ study will survey athletes to determine the physical, mental, financial, and social impacts that pregnancy and post-pregnancy have on an athlete’s decision to remain in sport.
The ‘Mum-Alete’ study is aligned with the AIS Female Performance and Health Initiative (FPHI), which was established in 2019 to improve knowledge and resources for athletes, coaches and health professionals.
Federal Minister for Sport, Richard Colbeck, said it was another example of the national sport sector leading the way in vital research to benefit athletes at every level.
“We want our female athletes to succeed in competition and beyond it,” Minister Colbeck said. “The AIS Female Performance and Health Initiative ensures the Australian high performance sport system is inclusive, progressive and supportive.”
Former Olympian and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Dr Rachel Harris is the Project Lead for the AIS FPHI and said the ‘Mum-Alete’ study will help attract and retain women in high performance sport.
“As a former athlete and as a health professional, I know first-hand how difficult it has been in the past to find guidance about important issues facing female athletes such as pregnancy,” Dr Harris said.
“The ‘Mum-Alete’ study is the first research project of its kind in Australia. The findings will not only help shape current and future AIS initiatives but influence change to better support and improve the longevity of female athletes.”
Led by AIS Sports and Exercise Medicine Registrar Dr Victoria Forsdick, the ‘Mum-Alete’ study will survey high performance athletes from around the country over the next three months, with results expected in April 2022.
“Athlete wellbeing and success go hand in hand so establishing conditions to create a supportive environment is a key strategic priority for the AIS,” Dr Forsdick said. “Historically almost all research and resources have been centred around male athletes so I’m proud that AIS Clinical Services is helping change that narrative to better support our female athletes.”
Two-time Olympic water polo player Lea Yanitsas had her son between Rio and Tokyo and said having a post-pregnancy roadmap would have made her return to high performance sport an easier process.
“I would have loved to be able to access more research, more resources and