The meeting at the IOC's headquarters aimed to help establish guidelines during and post pregnancy ©IOC/Bertrand Rey

Sixteen experts have attended a three-day meeting at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) headquarters in Lausanne to discuss research on exercising during pregnancy and after childbirth for elite athletes.

They joined representatives of the IOC Medical and Scientific Commission in the Swiss city with the discussion of the topic part of their ambition to help boost the health and well-being of athletes competing at the highest level.

The idea was for the experts, from across the world, to share their respective expertise and knowledge, providing them with the opportunity to review and evaluate the existing data available.

Defining the best practices and tackling frequently asked questions related to the influence and management of a pregnancy for an elite athlete were among the key areas examined by the experts and the commission.

As a result of the meeting the participants were able to make recommendations and agree upon areas requiring future research to continue to gain further knowledge regarding the impact of pregnancy and childbirth.

The IOC led initiative hopes to lead to comprehensive guidelines on exercise during pregnancy and post childbirth being produced, allowing sportswomen to make informed choices for their future, as well as their children’s.

Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill secured the world title a year after giving birth
Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill secured the world title a year after giving birth ©Getty Images

The need for guidelines follows the increase in the number of female athletes and pregnant women participating in elite sport, with the IOC determining there needs to be further advice available and a better understanding of issues to help support the athletes.

Following the meeting, a consensus statement is set to be published in spring in the British Journal of Sports Medicine on the subjects discussed.

Dr Ugur Erdener of Turkey currently chairs the IOC Medical and Scientific Commission, with Fiji’s Robin Mitchell acting as the vice-chair.

The Commission is completed by Switzerland’s René Fasel, Canada’s Hayley Wickenheiser, Germany’s Jorg Debatin, Egypt’s Rania El Wani, Qatar’s Vidya Mohamed-Ali and Yannis Pitsilades of Australia.

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