The miracle of childbirth is a life-changing experience for any woman, and since having her first child, Sarah Wiltshire is loving life on and off the field.
The Tottenham Hotspur Ladies forward described how she manages to balance a life full of scoring goals alongside looking after her pride and joy.
Alexa-Rose Edwards was born in February 2017 whilst the now 26-year-old was on the books at FA WSL side Yeovil Town Ladies before taking a break from football 13 weeks into her pregnancy.
So how has having a baby changed life for the Welsh international?
“She has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. It was of course hard finding my feet again, but she’s almost one now so I should be back to my old self soon,” she said.
“Your body goes through so many changes, and then you have a little baby to look after. It’s not always easy but it’s definitely worth it”.
A speedy comeback
Wiltshire’s rapid return to football after childbirth saw her make her first appearance for Cambridge United (on loan from Yeovil Ladies) less than seven weeks later, before returning to Yeovil in April 2017.
“She has been the best thing that’s ever happened to me” – Sarah Wiltshire
“I never really set a target for when to come back. I was lucky and had a natural birth, she was also well and healthy which set me on my way,” she explained.
“I managed to keep fit whilst pregnant. I trained lightly up until around 35 weeks, then I just walked and swam up until the due date which she was born on.”
She believes Jamie Sherwood, the Yeovil Town manager during her time at the club, was a prominent figure in her speedy comeback.
“Jamie was very supportive, he was the one who wanted me to return to Yeovil straight away to play in the top division. It was then time to think about what was best for my family and that’s when Spurs came along.”
Wiltshire’s move away from Yeovil was largely down to logistics for her family, and she is now a regular starter for the WSL2 side, who currently sit sixth in the league.
A lifelong Tottenham supporter, Wiltshire jumped at the chance of pulling on the Lilywhites’ shirt. Since moving to the North London club, she hasn’t looked back, and is relishing her football more than ever.
“I’m really enjoying being at Tottenham, especially as it’s the club I’ve supported since I was a little girl. It’s only 20 minutes to get to training too, so it’s more than the right fit for me,” she said.
“I’d love to stay here until I can’t play anymore. I want to help them get to the top level and be part of the squad for as long as possible. It’s probably the best team I’ve ever played for in terms of staff and players.”
Wiltshire was one of the prominent figures in Yeovil Town Ladies’ promotion to WSL 1 last season, with her being the top scorer in WSL 2 at the time she stopped playing towards the end of the year.
She recalled her first Mother’s Day experience last year, a special occasion where Alexa-Rose watched alongside Sarah’s mum to see her in action for Cambridge.
“I think it still hadn’t sunk in that I was a mother, it surprised me getting my own Mother’s Day card! It was great having them both there to watch,” she said.
So, what are the key changes she has had to make to her life since the arrival of Alexa-Rose?
“Alexa has pretty much changed everything for me, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I certainly don’t get as much sleep and my back hurts from carrying her, but you adapt,” she laughed.
“I have such a great amount of family support, so there are plenty of babysitters on hand for when I’m training or playing. Anything in between is mummy-daughter time”.
“If I feel down about football, she’s there to come home to. I’m never unhappy for long”
A new addition for Wiltshire is the fact she now always someone there to keep her happy for when things don’t go right on the field.
“I still have the same amount of motivation, I just love football. The only real change is if I feel down about football, she’s there to come home to. I’m never unhappy for long,” she said.
For Wiltshire, like many others, becoming a mum has added a whole new dimension to her life.
Time will tell whether her daughter inherits her love of the beautiful game, but, who knows, we may see another Wiltshire scoring goals in the future…
You can follow Sarah on Twitter @sawiltshire7 to follow her journey through football and motherhood.