The Australian Institute of Sport a major study into the impacts of pregnancy in high-performance sport with the aim of increasing career longevity for female athletes.

The ‘Mum-Alete’ study will survey athletes to determine the physical, mental, financial, and social impacts that pregnancy and post-pregnancy have on an athlete’s decision to remain in the sport.

Olympic swimmer Rachel Harris is the project lead and said the three-month study would help retain women in high-performance sport.

“As a former athlete and as a health professional, I know first-hand how difficult it has been in the past to find guidance about important issues facing female athletes such as pregnancy,” Harris said in a statement.

“The ‘Mum-Alete’ study is the first research project of its kind in Australia. The findings will not only help shape current and future AIS initiatives but influence change to better support and improve the longevity of female athletes.”

Two-time Olympic water polo player Lea Yanitsas had her son between Rio and Tokyo and said having a post-pregnancy roadmap would have made her return to high-performance sport an easier process.

“I would have loved to be able to access more research, more resources and more information about my return to elite competition following having my son,” Yanitsas said.

“I leaned hard on the research available and the experience of my friends who are elite athlete mothers and so much was trial and error.

“I wish I had had more support in navigating travel, breastfeeding, expressing and the practicalities of trying to train with a newborn.”

Open to athletes training or competing at the highest level in their sport in the six months prior to pregnancy, the survey is open now with results expected in April.