The study – backed by UK Sport and conducted in collaboration with colleagues from Liverpool John Moores University – will investigate how athletes can keep training and competing whilst also balancing family life.
Participants will be asked to highlight the challenges they have faced and highlight how national governing bodies (NGBs) and other sporting institutions could offer better support.
The findings will form the basis of an open access report, offering robust guidance and recommendations for those affected. This will extend to same sex couples, those looking to foster and/or adopt, and couples at the very start of family planning.
Dr Emma Pullen, the project lead and Lecturer in Sport Management at Loughborough University, said: “The project will be the first to explore the experiences of athlete partners and builds on previous collaborative research with UK Sport in this area.
“The research will provide new insights to help support the development of UK Sports pregnancy guidance. The current guidance provides for an initial framework to support elite athletes through their pregnancy journey and we are delighted to continue our work with UK Sport to help expand the guidance as it relates to athlete partners and wider forms of gender equity within the high-performance community.”
Andri Rauber, Athlete Investment Manager, UK Sport added: “This research project is a pivotal marker for UK Sport funded Athletes and Sports. The outcomes of this project are two-fold; firstly, building on the pregnancy guidance published in November 2021, we want to ensure that partners within the high-performance community are confident that they will be supported fairly should they wish to start a family, and secondly, to provide Sports Governing Bodies (SGBS) with clarity on how best they can support their athletes.”
The project follows on from Dr Pullen’s 2022 study that offered guidance to Olympic and Paralympic athletes throughout pregnancy.
The project commenced in February 2023 with the first findings expected in late spring 2023.