Athletics - UNLV
UNLV Sports Medicine


PREGNANT STUDENT-ATHLETE

The UNLV athletics department is committed to the personal health and development of all our student-athletes, and to the educational mission of our school. We strive to provide an environment that respects all pregnancy and parenting decisions and urges all participants to work cooperatively toward degree completion. This policy sets forth the protections that should be provided for pregnant and parenting students, including those with pregnancy related conditions. It also prohibits retaliation against any student or employee who complains about issues related to the enforcement of this Pregnancy Policy. We want to protect every student-athlete's physical and psychological health, and their ability to complete their education.

The UNLV Athletic Department; staff, coaches, athletic trainers, and any other personnel shall not influence, make any statements or give personal opinions regarding the choices of a pregnant student-athlete.

In the event a student-athlete becomes pregnant, the student-athlete will be referred to the UNLV Team Physician. The UNLV Team Physician and athletic training staff will provide the student-athlete with counseling and assist the student-athlete with referrals for further counseling and evaluations as pertaining to her pregnancy. The UNLV Team Physician will be responsible for coordinating and determining the participation status for the student-athlete.

Federal Laws


Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 bars discrimination on the basis of sex, which includes the guarantee of equal educational opportunity to pregnant and parenting students. This means that our student-athletes cannot be discriminated against because of their parental or marital status, pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy or recovery there from. In addition, a student's medical information may be protected by other federal laws. Some actions that may be permissible under NCAA rules are impermissible under federal law, and our institution adheres to federal law.

In order to comply with federal law:

  • Our athletics department will only require a pregnant or parenting student-athlete's physician to certify physical and emotional fitness as a condition for participating in athletics when such certification is required of student-athletes who experience other temporary disabilities.
  • Our athletics department will allow a pregnant or parenting student-athlete to fully participate on the team, including all team-related activities, unless the student-athlete's physician or other medical caregivers, including team physicians certifies that participation is not medically safe.
  • Our athletics department will allow a pregnant student-athlete to continue to participate in a limited manner on the team, including all team-related activities, unless the student-athlete's physician or other medical caregiver, including team physicians certifies that partial participation is medically safe.
  • Medically necessary absences from team activities due to pregnancy shall be considered excused absences.
  • No coach or other athletics department personnel shall suggest to any student-athlete that his or her continued participation on a team will be affected in any way by pregnancy or parental or marital status.
  • Out athletics department will not allow a hostile or intimidating environment on the basis of pregnancy or parental status to exist. Acts or statements that are hostile toward pregnancy or parenting, or that shun or shame the student-athlete because she is pregnant or parenting will not be tolerated. Such conduct prevents an individual from effectively participating in, or denies a person the benefits of, the educational opportunities provided by this institution.
  • Out athletics department will not terminate or reduce a student-athlete's athletics aid because of the student-athlete's pregnancy, marital or parental status during the term of the award.
  • Students may take a medical pregnancy leave, and at the end of that leave they will be reinstated to the same status they had before the leave.
  • Our athletics department will renew a pregnant, formerly pregnant, or parenting student-athlete's award, so long as the student-athlete is in good standing academically, remains engaged with our athletics department and meets NCAA eligibility standards. Returning students may be evaluated in the same manner as any other team member to determine their specific position on the team, such as a starter or as a forward.
  • Our athletics department will not permit the use of any written or verbal contract that requires a student-athlete to not get pregnant or become a parent as a condition of receiving an athletics award.
  • Our athletics department can provide health benefits for pregnancy, including counseling, physical examinations, medical treatment, medication and rehabilitation expenses, to the same degree that student-athletes who experience other temporary disabilities are provided these benefits. The UNLV athletics department's medical coverage policy for student-athletes can be found at the department's website.
  • Our pregnant and formerly pregnant students who wish to continue to participate in athletics are entitled to assistance and rehabilitation on the same basis as such assistance is provided to student-athletes with other temporary disabilities.
In order to assist our student-athletes:
  • Our athletics department will help the pregnant or parenting student-athlete plan for his or her continued academic progress, in accord with the university's educational mission.
  • Our athletics department will help the student-athlete return to sport after pregnancy and during parenting, if the student-athlete so desires.
  • Our athletic department will assist the student-athlete to access the pregnancy and parenting support resources that are available to all college students.
  • Our athletics department will publish this Policy in a publicly-available Student-Athlete Handbook, make this Policy available to student-athletes and their families on-line, and provide specific education on this Policy for all student-athletes and their families.
  • Our athletics department, in conjunction with the team physician, the Faculty Athletics Representative, the Senior Woman Administrator, Team Certified Athletic Trainers and others designated by the university President, will regularly review student-athlete pregnancy and parenting cases as they occur to monitor compliance with this Policy.
Reporting:
  • Our athletics department will not require any student-athlete to reveal pregnancy or parenting status to coaches or teammates. Our department will work to create an environment which encourages the student-athlete to voluntarily reveal her pregnancy and his or her parenting status, in order for our institution to provide optimal support for physical and mental health with professional health care. The coach's attitude toward pregnancy and parenting can be pivotal in creating such a safe environment.
  • No athletics department personnel will publicly release personally identifiable health information about pregnancy without written, timely authorization from the student-athlete.
  • When a student-athlete reveals her pregnancy or parenting status to athletics personnel, they should direct the student-athlete to this Policy. They should reiterate the department's protection of the student-athletes team membership status and financial aid. Athletics personnel should refer the student-athlete to the team physician, or to a university-designated athletics department representative trained in providing information about pregnancy and parenting support options.
  • Athletics personnel who suspect that a student-athlete is pregnant may report their concerns to the team physician or to a university-designated athletics department representative trained in pregnancy and parenting support options.
  • Teammates of pregnant student-athletes may report their concerns to the team physician or to a university-designated athletic department representative trained in pregnancy and parenting support options. Enforcement and Non-Retaliation:
    • Any member of the athletics department found to have violated this policy by threatening to withhold or withholding athletics participation or an athletics award, by harassing a student-athlete on the basis or pregnancy or parenting status, or by breaching medical confidentiality, will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including discharge or expulsion from the university. The athletics department will also take appropriate remedial action to correct the situation.
    • Any member of the athletics department who becomes aware of conduct that violates this policy should report the conduct to an appropriate official, such as the Athletics Director, the General Counsel's office, the Title IX Officer, the Faculty Athletics Representative, or the Equal Opportunity Officer. The athletics department and university will make every effort to prevent disclosure of the names of all parties involved, except to the extent necessary to carry out an investigation.
    • Retaliation is specifically prohibited against anyone who complains about pregnancy or parental status discrimination, even if the person was in error about the lawfulness of the conduct complained about. This athletics department will take steps to prevent any retaliation against the individual who made the complaint.
    Participation by the Pregnant Student-Athlete:
  • Assessing the risk of intense, strenuous physical activity in the pregnant student-athlete is difficult since there are no studies that have specifically addressed this topic. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) has recommended that following a thorough clinical evaluation, healthy pregnant women should be encouraged to engage in regular, moderate intensity physical activities. Women who exercise during pregnancy have improved cardiovascular function, limited weight gain and fat retention, improved attitude and mental state, easier and less complicated labor, and enhanced postpartum recovery. There has not been shown to be a greater risk of spontaneous abortion.
  • The fetus benefits from exercise during pregnancy in several ways; including an increased tolerance for the physiologic stresses of late pregnancy, labor and delivery. The baby tends to be more alert, less fussy, and may have increased cognitive function.
  • The safety to participate in each sport must be dictated by the movements and physical demands required to compete in that sport. Exercise in the supine position after the first trimester has been reported to result in relative obstruction of venous return and orthostatic hypotension. ACOG has recommended that pregnant women avoid supine positions during exercise as much as possible. The American College of Sports Medicine discourages heavy weight lifting or similar activities that require straining or valsalva.
  • High intensity exercise required for competition in nearly all sports has not been well studied and may increase fetal risk. Many medical experts recommend that women avoid participating in competitive contact sports after the 14th week of pregnancy. While direct fetal injury with abdominal trauma after the 14th week has not been documented in athletics competition, indirect support for this risk comes from documented fetal injury from falls and car accidents. Athletics activities associated with a high risk of falling should be avoided during pregnancy. Pregnant student-athletes who participate in non-contact endurance sports should consider participating at a non-competitive level.
  • Women who have medical conditions that place their pregnancies at high risk for complications should avoid physical activity until consultation with their obstetrician and the team physician. Examples of these medical conditions include but are not limited to poorly controlled diabetes or hypertension, multiple gestations at risk for pre-term labor, pre-eclampsia, and cervical defects that increase the risk of a spontaneous abortion or pre-term labor.
  • The risks and benefits of athletics participation should be one of the objectives for the team physician in counseling the pregnant student-athlete. This includes the effects of pregnancy on competitive ability, the effects of strenuous physical training and competition on both the pregnant student-athlete and the fetus, and the warning signs to terminate exercise while pregnant. (Figure 1) The student-athlete should be informed that NCAA rules permit a one-year extension of the five-year period of eligibility for a female student-athlete for reasons of pregnancy.
  • If the student-athlete decides to compete, it is recommended that documentation outlining the student-athlete's medical condition, the potential risks of athletics participation during pregnancy, and the student-athlete's understanding of these risks of participation to her and her baby be included in the student-athlete's medical record. This should be in the form of signed informed consent. It also is recommended that an institution obtain approval from the physician most familiar with the pregnant student-athlete's condition, the team physician and an appropriate official of the institution. These student-athletes may require close obstetric supervision. Following delivery or pregnancy termination, medical clearance by the student-athlete's obstetrician and the team physician is required to ensure the student-athlete's safe return to athletics.
    Figure 1 - Warning Signs to Terminate Exercise While Pregnant
      Vaginal Bleeding
      Shortness of Breath Prior to Exercise
      Dizziness
      Headache
      Chest Pain
      Calf Pain of Swelling
      Pre-term Labor
      Decreased Fetal Movement
      Amniotic Fluid Leakage
      Muscle Weakness
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