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The pelvic floor is an essential group of muscles that help to maintain control of the bladder and bowels, support internal organs, and coordinate with the deep core, back and diaphragm. These muscles frequently require rehabilitation after the strain of pregnancy and birth. Pelvic floor physiotherapists are an important part of a postnatal care team that can help postpartum individuals navigate a return to activity

The connection between women’s health and sports has been studied for many years and recently it was translated into practice. As one of the first football clubs to incorporate research on women’s health into training and nutrition regimes, Chelsea Football Club Women partnered with bio-analytics company Orreco to monitor players’ menstrual cycles to enhance performance and reduce injuries.

The postpartum transition (from childbirth to one-year postpartum) is among the most challenging identity shifts for women. Physical activity has the capacity to reconnect women with their new bodies, while improving mental health. With education and support, more women can safely resume physical activity after childbirth and benefit from improved well-being.

New Canadian research shows that the average age of first-time mothers among a sample of female high performance athletes (33 years) was 3.5 years older than the Canadian average. Women athletes often face a dilemma about whether to continue a sporting career or start a family. It is important for athletes, coaches and healthcare professionals to normalize discussions about women’s health considerations, including pregnancy and parenting, at each stage of an athlete’s career.

“As an athlete, you’re always thinking about yourself. Then my daughter, Kate, comes along and that whole perspective totally changes. I had to make every moment count, whether I was being a mom with Kate, or training at the gym,” says 2-time Olympian, Mandy Bujold. The Canadian boxer discusses her fight to earn a spot at the Tokyo Games after giving birth to her daughter. This #MomsGotGame

Being active in midlife and menopause can be life-changing for women, but many experience barriers to getting active. The sport sector can help women in this life stage by expanding opportunities for physical activity, creating judgment-free zones, and offering social support. Expanding the image of what ‘sporty’ means can further inspire women to be active.

Because elite athletes train and compete throughout their reproductive years, sport policies should reflect the needs of pregnant athletes. Recent research identified five areas where better support can be provided to pregnant athletes: pregnancy planning and fertility, pregnancy disclosure and discrimination, training pregnant athletic bodies, safety concerns, and supportive networks and equitable funding.

Family, friends, and teammates all play an important role in encouraging moms’ physical activity and sport participation. There are many ways to support moms to help them stay active. These include helping with childcare and household work, providing moms with emotional support, and most importantly, cheering them on every step of the way!

Being a new mom is often stressful. Encouragingly, research shows that new and expecting moms who stay active are less likely to experience anxiety. Meeting the recommended physical activity guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week is a great way for moms to protect and promote their mental health.

Finding the time to fit in a home workout or exercise class can be challenging for moms. But small bouts of physical activity throughout the day, or “exercise snacks,” can be just as effective to achieve the health benefits of physical activity. Research shows that when moms reframe physical activity as “moving your body” instead of a structured activity, they find it easier to be active!