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Pregnancy and Motherhood in Elite Sport: The Longitudinal Experiences of two Elite Athletes

Massey, K and Whitehead, AE (2022) Pregnancy and Motherhood in Elite Sport: The Longitudinal Experiences of two Elite Athletes. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 60. ISSN 1469-0292

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Since the end of the 20th century, the elite athlete mother has been growing social phenomenon, with increasing numbers of female athletes returning to elite level sport postpartum. Allyson Felix and Serena Williams are two recent elite athletes who successfully transitioned into their new identity of elite athlete mother. However, there is no guarantee that all transitional journeys will be as successful. The purpose of the present study was to enhance current knowledge of the experiences during pregnancy and motherhood in elite sport by exploring how becoming a mother impacted on the perceived personal and physical identity of elite athletes. Two elite athletes who had recently given birth to their first child were interviewed at two-months, six-months, and 15-16 months post-birth. Interviews were analyzed using a reflexive thematic analysis to explore how identity may have changed over the initial 15-16 months of motherhood. Three themes were developed, comprising: athlete identity; mother identity; and athlete mother identity. The sub-themes of identity, physical identity, shifting of goals, juggling athlete and mother identity, dual identity, priorities, and lifestyle were generated and demonstrated both similarities and nuances in the experiences of the two athletes. This study is the first to provide longitudinal insights into the experiences of both para and non-para elite athlete mothers during the initial stages of motherhood. Findings highlight the individual nature of such an experience and illuminate some of the negotiations of the personal, athlete, and mother identity that an athlete mother may experience.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 11 Medical and Health Sciences, 13 Education, 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC1200 Sports Medicine
R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure > GV561 Sports
Divisions: Sport & Exercise Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier
Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2022 11:58
Last Modified: 21 Jul 2023 00:50
DOI or ID number: 10.1016/j.psychsport.2022.102139
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/16097
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