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Euro2024 - It's not all about football!

With the Euro 2024 about to kick off in Germany tomorrow, it’s a pretty apt time to share what FIFA announced recently around pregnancy and motherhood for players and coaches including maternity leave of 14 weeks paid leave, adoption leave and family leave.

⚽ "I went through birth so I knew I could do anything!"

- Katrina Gorry

Pregnancy and childbirth take a huge physical, mental and emotional toll on gestational parents. It's good to see this going in the right direction with more to be done going forward for sure. 

⚽ "If someone wants to be a mum I think it's important they see it is possible. When we came back, we tried to be role models. It gives others confidence that they can do it as well." - Melanie Leupolz, Chelsea F.C.

Having read through some of the stories, as well as the BBC article back in April, what strikes me isn't that this is a step in the right direction, it obviously is - it's more the fact that it comes across as something amazing and something that should have already been in place. To be able to be a footballer AND a mother with some targeted support in place doesn't seem like a big ask from the outside looking in. I'm no footballer, or athlete, but I don't really understand why women haven't been better supported to be able to be both, until now? 

⚽ "Your body changes, your life changes, but it's still possible to do both." 

- Melanie Leupolz, Chelsea F.C.

The support required around pregnancy, labour, birth and the newborn/fourth trimester stage is targeted unique support for sure, but it doesn't require huge investment. It doesn't require billions of pounds - unlike the cost of perinatal mental and physical health issues, that arise currently due to the lack of said support. 

⚽ "You know, you can really push your body to a new limit after you’ve gone through the birthing experience but also the newborn experience and everything after that. It’s challenging and when you don’t think you can get through the day of just exhaustion, you push through and you get to the end and you think like ‘I’m incredible, I don’t know how I did it, but I did it!” It just gives you so many more strengths.” 

- Katrina Gorry, West Ham United F.C. Women

Perinatal support is a necessity, not a luxury. This applies even more so to footballers and women in any elite level of sport. The physical challenges of pregnancy, labour and birth including body changes, exhaustion and the presence of the hormone 'relaxin' in additional to the emotional needs of this time of 'Matrescence' must to be taken into account if women are to continue to thrive in their lives, and sports long term.

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