Aberdeen Women club captain Nadine Hanssen hopes to prove female players should not have to choose between football and family.
The 30-year-old will not play for the Dons again this season as she is expecting her second child in April 2024 with partner Kelle Roos, who is the Aberdeen men’s team goalkeeper.
Her final game in red was supposed to be against Partick Thistle on October 22, but the match was postponed due to Storm Babet and rescheduled for tomorrow at Cormack Park.
Hanssen, who gave birth to her son Romeo in December 2021, made her comeback from her first pregnancy when she signed for the Dons in September 2022, before making her debut against Glasgow City the following month.
In late October, the club announced Hanssen was expecting her second child in a social media post which included a picture of her, Roos and their son.
Hanssen is grateful for the support she has had from Aberdeen – saying her and Roos have always felt the Dons is a “warm and family club” since they moved north.
But she knows other female footballers who have been in the same situation as her have not shared the same positive experience.
In January 2023, Icelandic footballer Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir, who now plays for Juventus, spoke out about the way she was treated while she was pregnant during her time at former club Lyon.
Gunnarsdottir won a maternity claim against the French giants – who withheld some of her salary during her pregnancy. Her former club was ordered to backdate pay worth £72,139 by Fifa.
“It (being pregnant) definitely should not hold you back from things,” said Hanssen.
“If you wish to have a family, I don’t think playing football should hold you back. It’s something you do see more and more – and that is definitely a good thing.
“If someone works in an office job and then becomes pregnant, you would never hear any problems about that.
“Your employer needs to support you with it and there shouldn’t be problems about it.
“It is your right as a woman to be pregnant and there should not be any issues with that.
“The club have been great with me. We are really happy and very grateful for their support.
“The team are excited and have been very supportive, too.
“I told Clint (Lancaster) in the earlier stages and he’s been absolutely great – I couldn’t be more happy to be around this team, the coaches and to have Clint as a manager.”
Staying in training during pregnancy important for Hanssen
When Hanssen was pregnant with her son Romeo, it coincided with the end of the FA WSL season and her contract with Aston Villa.
Things are different with this pregnancy, as she is contracted with Aberdeen on a deal which runs until the summer of 2024.
It means she will continue non-contact training with her Dons team-mates for as long as she can – and will be their “biggest supporter” from the sidelines.
“In my last pregnancy I was out of contract when I announced the news, so I wasn’t at the football club from when I was around 10 weeks,” Hanssen explained.
“It’s my benefit to stay training with the girls and be around them for as long as possible. It also helps with the transition of stepping away to then coming back.
“I want to stay on in training for as long as possible and, hopefully, still be valuable in a way to the team.
“That’s really important to me.”
Continuing playing prior to 12-week scan ‘helped’ Hanssen cope with ‘long wait’
Hanssen was pregnant when playing for the Dons in the SWPL this season, which she says helped her get through the early stages of her pregnancy as she still got to be the “same” player.
“Normally you tell people after the first scan which is around 12 weeks, so that was a pretty long wait,” said Hanssen.
“It kind of helped me because I hadn’t spoke to anyone about it.
“It is very real for you, but everyone just treated me as the same footballer.
“I was able to just play in the team like normal and that helped me focus on what I needed to do for the team on the pitch.”
Although she is currently making the most of the time before her new arrival, she admits she is not planning to hang her boots up permanently.
“I am enjoying the moments just now, but I do think about how life will be after April,” said Hanssen. “I have the feeling that I haven’t played my last game of football yet.
“You never know what will happen, but my feeling just now is that I do think about it (returning to playing again).”