Bristol Bears star Abbie Ward on returning to the pitch just 17 weeks after giving birth

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Bristol Bears star Abbie Ward has said she hopes to change perceptions about pregnancy in women's sport after she returned to rugby just 17 weeks after giving birth.

The 30-year-old gave birth to Hallie earlier this year but was able to make a winning return to the Bristol Bears team in the club's match against Sale at Ashton Gate.

She was even able to score her first try in the match and was named the player of the round across the whole of the league for that weekend.

She was also able to walk out of the tunnel before the game with her daughter in her arms, cheered on by the crowd and her husband, Dave Ward, who coaches the women's team.

Ward had spoken during her pregnancy about how important it is to shift perception around the issue in sport.

Now though she hopes her example can be followed by others as she looks ahead to the rest of her career.

"It is amazing, motherhood is amazing," she said.

Abbie even carried her newborn daughter on to the pitch ahead of the game

"There is no feeling like it, it is exhausting and tiring but loving every second and just happy to be back playing rugby as well.

"It was so special to have Hallie there and also to have my husband there was kind of unique. To be there with them all and to be there with the girls again as well was really special.

"I think it is about shifting perception and the culture and hopefully I have shown others that you can do both.

"On the other hand, I don't want to put pressure on other people that if they want to do both, there is no set timescale on when you should return and that is important but I hope it highlights that there is that choice."

After continuing to train with staff at the club in the build-up to giving birth, she says she felt ready to return very quickly.

Abbie Ward playing for England Credit: PA

Now she has set her sights making a return to the England set-up alongside her club career with the bears.

"I have done the easy part I guess but the next thing for me is making sure I up my performance," she said.

"I know I am rusty on a few things and then once I have sorted that I want to get back in to and England shirt.

"I really want to win another championship here, I want to win a grand slam with England and get back to that top level again."