Being Active & Pregnant
Pregnant? That’s fantastic. Active sport participant? Great. But should you stay active throughout your pregnancy? What are the legal implications for you, your child and your club?
Pregnancy once signalled the end of a woman’s sporting career but, in recent years, attitudes have changed. For proof look no further than the London Olympics where 29-year-old Malaysian shooter Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi will compete despite being eight months pregnant.
We’ve certainly come a long way, but the fact that Suryani’s story is international news is an indication that this issue remains contentious.
We all know that physical activity is good for all women and pregnancy should not be a barrier to participation. But what about a club’s ‘Duty of Care’? And how much responsibility rests with the pregnant woman?
What does the law say?
Federal, state and territory legislation in Australia make discrimination due to gender or pregnancy unlawful and sport is no exception. Therefore, a ban on pregnant women’s participation in sport may contravene anti-discrimination laws and a participant who feels that they have been discriminated against due to their pregnancy has the right to lodge a complaint against the banning organisation.
On the flip side, if an organisation is seen as not having taken all reasonable steps to prevent a pregnant woman from being injured, it could be found vicariously liable for the situation.
And just to complicate things further, if a woman chooses not to disclose her pregnancy to club administrators, the liability for injury to herself or her unborn child may rest with her.
- Sports Medicine Australia: Resources for Active Women
- Dr Marg Torode – Guidelines on the participation of the Pregnant Athlete in contact and collision sports
- Professor Wendy Brown – The benefits of sport for the pregnant woman
- Associate Professor Caroline Finch – The risk of abdominal injury to women during sport
- SMA Pregnancy Statement