Professional sportswomen in Australia say they need better maternity policies and support when it comes to returning to competitive action after having children.
Women’s NBA basketballer and record-breaker Liz Cambage raised the issue on Thursday during a panel discussion about women in sport.
“Another thing I think we never talk about with women in sport, is when we want to start a family, will we have the support to come back to the sport?” she asked the Future Women audience in Sydney.
Australian bowler Megan Schutt, who is about to marry her partner Jess Holyoake, said Cricket Australia has started talking to them about improving its policies.
“I know it’s a long time coming, but to be involved in those conversations, to have input to say, ‘That could possibly affect me in the future’, is really cool and I’m not sure everyone has had that in the past,” she told AAP.
Her soon-to-be wife will most likely have their first child, Schutt said.
“(But) eventually that’s going to switch and I’m going to want a kid. So for me to have that involvement in the pregnancy policy is great.”
Greater Western Sydney Giants AFLW player Courtney Gum juggles a professional footy career with having a four-year-old son Buz.
“GWS have been really fantastic. I think their heart’s in the right place, but in terms of their system and their structure, it’s just not there yet,” she told the forum.
A supportive coach encourages Gum to bring Buz to training, but things don’t always go to plan.
“During the team meeting Buz is peeking through the door,” she said.
“He’s jumping up on those box jump and he hurts himself and I’m kind of trying to barbell squat and looking over my head.”
In-house babysitting could support sportswomen better, Gum argued.
“It will be a real challenge for women wanting to have kids. (Fellow AFL player) Daisy Pearce has just had twins and I know she’s really looking to come back and play hopefully next season.”
Cambage has seem teammates struggle after having children.
“Do these women have the right support being a full-time athlete and raising children at the same time?” she asked.
As she prepares for the Tokyo Olympics – and approaches her 30s – Cambage is asking herself such questions before having kids.
“Will I be able to come back from that and play again? Will I have the right support there? Will I be financially stable?”