UK Sport introduces pregnancy guidance for Team GB athletes

The guidance on pregnancy, created by UK Sport, is aimed at supporting athletes through "pre, during and post-childbirth." Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

UK Sport has introduced official pregnancy guidance for Team GB athletes for the first time, with the organisation stating that "starting a family and being an elite athlete should not be mutually exclusive."

The new guidance is designed to support Olympic and Paralympic athletes through "pre, during and post-childbirth."

UK Sport said it created the guidance following an 18-month consultation process and is designed to provide advice to athletes about how and when to share their pregnancy with their sport, as well as provide a framework that includes advice on how to return to training and competition.

It said in a statement: "UK Sport is not recommending a one-size fits all approach when athletes and sports are implementing this guidance, recognising 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."

Naomi Folkard, a five-time Olympic archer who gave birth to her first child this year, said she hopes the guidance helps governing bodies and sports scientists to treat men and women equally.

"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," she said.

"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."