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Karla’s back, baby! Superstar netballer set for Lightning return

Arguably one of the best netballers in the world, Sunshine Coast Lightning player Karla Pretorius took on a new challenge earlier this year. Welcoming her baby girl Kara in June, the South African international is set to re-join her Australian club for the 2023 season. We chat to this sporting superstar about motherhood, the juggle, and her return to court. #LetsGoLightning!


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Congratulations! A new baby

As any new parent can tell you, the adjustment to motherhood is not an easy one.

“We are so grateful for our little baby girl,” Pretorius says.

“It’s been a huge adjustment to our lives, but one we embrace and absolutely love. We are learning and growing everyday. I’m certainly tired, but with the minimal sleep came a lot of joy and love.”


What it’s like being a new mum

You hear about new parents — and especially new mothers — being exhausted. The first few months with a newborn are a series of ups and downs for any parent.

Pretorius marvels at how much her life has changed since Kara’s arrival.

Pretorius says, “the unconditional love you have for each other and the honour of being her everything” are among her favourite things about being a new mum.

But there are also challenges, and Pretorius is no different to other mums when it comes to navigating them.

“For me, probably the change in sleeping patterns,” Pretorius says of her greatest challenges with a new baby, to date. “But you get use to it very quickly. You have to!”

Coping with the way babies sleep can certainly be difficult.

When we ask the world-class defender to tell us about baby Kara, she was more than willing.

“[Kara] is very friendly,” Pretorius says of her daughter. “She is also tenacious, just like her dad.”

Karla Pretorius Playing Netball for Sunshine Coast Lightning

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Comeback on the cards

Pretorius had been upfront with the Sunshine Coast Lightning about the desire she and her husband, Werner, had in starting a family.  She has gone on the record in appreciation of the club’s support and backing.

“I was honest with the fact we wanted to try and fall pregnant with the club,” Pretorius told the Herald Sun in July.

As one of the Sunshine Coast Lightning’s foundation players, Pretorius also captained the side in the 2021 season. She has been part of the 2017 and 2018 premiership title-winning teams, and was the Most Valuable Player in the 2017 Grand Final.

Returning to her home in South Africa, Karla Pretorius says she feels rejuvenated and is excited about helping the Lightning to another title.

“My aim is to be back on the court by the New Year, in time for the 2023 season. I’m looking forward to getting back to playing.

“I know there are big challenges lying ahead but I’m excited for it. It helps I have a lot of support in doing so.”


Safely returning to training after having a baby

As a professional athlete, what does safely returning to elite training after having a baby look like?

“It is so important to have good support and get advice and help from professionals,” Pretorius says. “In my case, our strength and conditioning coach as well as my obstetrician and the rest of the medical team, helped prepare a ‘return to play’ program for me.”

She says every athlete will be different, but the general advice is to start with low impact training to increase stability—especially strengthening the pelvic floor and core. Then gradually increase to higher impact and strength exercises.

“It all depends on how I progress and respond at each training stage,” Pretorius says. “I will have a program of modified sport-specific exercises, until I’m ready to return to play.”


Balancing act

As any mother can attest, the juggle can be crazy. How will Karla Pretorius balance professional sport with motherhood?

“It is all new to me! But so far it’s about having a bit of a plan, but also knowing that things won’t always go accordingly, which is okay. We just adapt and try again,” she says.

Karla Pretorius from Sunshine Coast Lightning Welcomed Her Baby Girl Kara in June

She says it has only been since Kara’s birth that she truly understands the definition of multi-tasking!

Tips for mums returning to sport after having a baby

Karla Pretorius is quick to sing the praises of the Lightning, who she says have been fully supportive of her and her family.

She says having a good support network is key for any mum looking to make a return to sport or physical activity after baby.

“Start slowly and don’t rush things,” she says. “Also, don’t be too hard on yourself if things don’t go according to plan.”


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By Angela Sutherland
After spending many years hustling stories on busy editorial desks around the world, Angela is now mum of two little ones and owner/editor at Kids on the Coast / Kids in the City. She is an atrocious cook and loves cutting shapes to 90s dance music. Angela is the editor of Kids on the Coast - a free family magazine whats on guide for Kids: things to do, school holiday fun and free activities for kids... Fun attractions, family food & travel, kids health & wellbeing, kids parties venues, parenting, pregnancy & babies, guide for parents. Servicing Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and beyond, Kids on the Coast is an online guide for parents with kids things to do with kids, schools and education and lifestyle news located on Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast & Brisbane, QLD.

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