Two Canberra Capitals players put their return to the WNBL down to its support for new mums, and they both want to normalise conversations on athletes returning to elite sport after pregnancy.
This WNBL season Alex Bunton is making her return after retiring in 2019 and giving birth to her now-20-month-old daughter Opal, alongside Kelly Wilson, who is also returning following her son Teddy's birth in February.
Both of their post-pregnancy returns are due to the Capitals embracing a family-friendly environment, as well as the WNBL's 2018 maternity policy which provides a carer for all away trips for children up to four years old, and additional care and financial support.
"I can't thank the Caps enough for accommodating us as a family and making me feel safe and comfortable," Wilson said.
"It definitely didn't feel like I could do this 10 years ago or even five years ago, so the fact the WNBL has implemented it and there's clubs like the Capitals that are accommodating and just so supportive. It's come so far."
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The Super Netball has had a similar policy since 2017, offering 100 per cent income protection, babysitters during work commitments, and an allowance for a carer and children under the age of one (or still being breastfed) at away games.
On the other hand, A-League Women's clubs are not required to cover maternity costs, and Brisbane Roar midfielder Katrina Gorry is set to spend about 75 per cent of her wage on babysitting and travel costs this season
A new Australian study is looking into the impacts of pregnancy in high-performance sport with the aim of increasing career longevity for female athletes.
The WNBL's all-time game record holder, 36-year-old Wilson, said there needed to be more studies and more people talking about returning after pregnancy.
"I don't think people talk about it enough. I would have liked a little bit more advice," she said.
"There needs to be more help for athletes trying to come back, and I think the Caps are getting off to a great start and helping that.
"I took it really slow at the start, and like I said, I had no plans to come back and play ... but there was a certain point where I just realised 'Wait, I can still do this and I feel good'."
Similarly, Bunton is returning to the court, and despite 11 knee surgeries she is crediting her return to the WNBL to the policy, the Capitals and giving birth.
The policy allowed the 28-year-old single mum to focus on her game and ensured she signed on the dotted line.
"I said that [daughter] Opal gave me all the good hormones and all the remedies for fixing any injuries [I'd] had," Bunton said.
"I didn't even know what to expect, I thought if I overthink it, I'm gonna say no because it was overwhelming ... but I have my parents here and [Paul] Gorrie said that he wanted to incorporate Opal just as much as me, which was something that really helped me go 'yes'.
"It wasn't really a thing to come back, having a baby was post-sport. [It's welcome] when a few people go through it, become veterans with it, explain their experiences and just show that it's not so much of a scary territory. Because it's so unknown, and not a lot of people have done it or spoken about it.
"We can normalise it, we can make it a fun thing and she'll become a mascot."