British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2021 e-print online first.
Reframing return-to-sport postpartum: the 6Rs Framework
(Gráinne M Donnelly, Isabel S Moore, Emma Brockwell, Alan Rankin, Rosalyn Cooke)
The need for change
Female participation and professionalisation within sport is growing, leading to greater investment, competition and publicity. Despite this, there is a lack of female-specific research and frameworks to guide organisations in supporting and optimising female athlete performance, particularly during the transition into motherhood. Recent developments in sporting regulations allow greater flexibility in team selections to support perinatal athletes who are pregnant or on maternity leave. However, provisions to assist these athletes returning to their sport are lacking and there is a need for greater recognition of perinatal health considerations, for example, pelvic health. Multidisciplinary teams managing athletes often include sports medicine clinicians (particularly physiotherapists and physicians), surgeons, physiologists and coaches. In the context of the perinatal athlete, we argue that it is crucial that specialist pelvic health physiotherapists, midwives and obstetric and gynaecological consultants are included in the multidisciplinary team supporting their return-to-sport. In this editorial we will outline considerations that are necessary for supporting athletes during and after pregnancy. In doing so we aim to provide a framework to guide multidisciplinary teams managing perinatal athletes and their return-to-sport postpartum.