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Skating through pregnancy and motherhood: A narrative analysis of digital stories of elite figure skating expectant mothers


McGannon, KR and Graper, S and McMahon, J, Skating through pregnancy and motherhood: A narrative analysis of digital stories of elite figure skating expectant mothers, Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 59, (March 2022) Article 102126. ISSN 1469-0292 (2022) [Refereed Article]

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© 2021 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.psychsport.2021.102126



Although research on elite sport and motherhood is growing, more research is needed to understand the narratives that shape their identities and lives. We sought to build on sport psychology research centralizing the media as naturalistic data resources to explore elite athlete mother identity in cultural context. The specific aim was to explore how elite athlete identities are portrayed during pregnancy on Instagram.


Two high profile elite figure skating expectant mothers’ (i.e., Meagan Duhamel and Aljona Savchenko) Instagram posts were the focus of a dialogical narrative analysis (DNA) grounded in relativist narrative inquiry. Two research questions were explored: 1. how do expectant athlete mothers portray themselves in big and small stories, and 2. what are the implications (e.g., psychosocial, behavioural) of identity meanings portrayed in digital stories?


DNA of 122 posts (n = 82 for Duhamel, n = 40 for Savchenko) identified a key big story: (re)configuring ideal pregnancy. Four small stories fed into fluid meanings of ‘ideal pregnancy’ and ways of ‘doing pregnancy’ linked to self-identity portrayals: documenting the growing life, baby bumps on display, Olympic dreams/journeys and living the good life through leisure. Consumerism was shown to thread small stories. These findings show contradictions of motherhood meanings and body ideals (e.g., feminine, athletic) vs realities (e.g., tired, sore), linked to actions (e.g., skating during pregnancy, promoting products or athlete brand), in good mother and biomedical narratives.


A big and small story approach grounded in narrative inquiry holds value to learn more about the digital landscape’s role in shaping athlete expectant mother self-identities. Future research exploring social media (e.g., Twitter, Facebook) may expand intertextual understanding of athlete mothers' identities and lives.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:elite athlete mothers, narrative inquiry, social media, instagram, self-identity
Research Division:Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services
Research Group:Commercial services
Research Field:Sport and leisure management
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in human society
UTAS Author:McMahon, J (Associate Professor Jennifer McMahon)
ID Code:148240
Year Published:2022
Deposited By:Education
Deposited On:2021-12-14
Last Modified:2022-01-17

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