Pregnancy and returning to high-level sports: a retrospective study of Olympic athletes from Italian teams
Objective. Based on the experience of elite athletes from Italian Olympic teams, this study aims to describe their pregnancy and training during this period and their return to top-level sport.
Materials and Methods. A questionnaire was administered to athletes who had participated in the past five Olympic Games, starting with Sydney 2000. The questionnaire was divided into four parts (pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and return to competition) and administered by medical personnel.
Results. Fifty-five athletes from national Olympic teams were included in the study. Average age at conception was 31.0 ± 4.3 years. The disciplines were classified as skill, power, mixed and endurance. Weigh gain, duration and quality of sleep, and urogenital ailments were recorded. The number and type of training sessions during pregnancy and post-partum were evaluated. Athletes returned to competition at an average of 7 months after the birth of the child (range, 1-36 months); 50.6% of the athletes returned to international-level competitions.
Conclusions. This study shows that athletes continued to train during pregnancy and returned to competition after birth, answering questions increasingly asked by pregnant women: is it possible to continue to practice sport, following specific training sessions and to return to compete at a high level?