EIGHT weeks post-partum with a first baby and it wouldn’t be unusual for any new mother to declare an exit from the house before noon a triumph.

By that stage, Lisa Robertson, the Celtic and Scotland midfielder, was already back in the gym honing her core and pushing herself through the exhaustion, trying to touch base with her former life. 

Four-month old Lucas might not know it yet but he is the reason for his mother gritting her teeth and pushing through to ensure she gets herself into optimum shape before getting herself back onto the pitch.

“I want Lucas to see me playing football,” she said. “I want to be able to see him with his Dad, my partner, Mark, and for them both to see me back playing football with that shirt on. That is the only motivation that I need.”

The 31-year-old is the first of her colleagues within Celtic’s first-team to give birth – “he has a lot of aunties!”- and was always of the opinion that she would not be hanging up her boots following delivery.

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If playing football at the highest level as a female has not been without its challenges, playing football at the highest level after childbirth is a whole other world.

The fact that Robertson’s career in football was hard-fought has given her the steely foundation on which to base her return. The owner of a thriving painting-and-decorating firm before she went full-time with Celtic, Robertson is of the generation who had to work to support their game.

She remembers 5am gym sessions before work and training after a day of hard, physical graft as the norm.

If the life of a footballer was difficult to envisage at that stage of her career, it is one she has been reluctant to give up on. 

“It has been very, very difficult,” she accepted.

“Harder than I would ever have expected. I trained during my pregnancy all the way through but I had a C-section and that made things a bit more complicated.

“The reality is that it is harder than you think. I had expected that when I got my six-week check that I would be ready to get back but I wasn’t. It was eight weeks before I was back and that was a shock to the system as I hadn’t done anything at all.

“For the first three or four weeks I had barely moved. I had had major surgery and then had a newborn to look after so physically it was really hard.

“The first thing I had to do was get to work on my core to make sure that I was building up those muscles to be able to run again. Now, four months since having Lucas I am back on the pitch and it is all about building my endurance.

The National:

“It is incredibly challenging but it is worth it. Mark has been incredible. He works shifts in the evening so he has been able to take Lucas while I train and do extra sessions and then I can come and take over. He has been so supportive and he is as keen to see me back on the badge as I am.”

The physical pressures are one thing, the mental effects of a return another. It is, after all, not just the body which changes in the aftermath of one giving birth.

“I go to book-bug and I look amazing and then I go into Celtic and I think how much I have still got to lose!” said Robertson.

“I think I probably have another stone or so that I would like to lose and if I’m being honest before I had Lucas I thought that it would come off fairly quickly.

“You do come into work and you’re surrounded by athletes, people who are training every day and who are following structured nutritional plans. It is difficult not to think about body image and how different you feel after carrying and delivering a baby.

“Everyone looks amazing and then you start to doubt yourself a little bit. But I have had incredible support, practically and emotionally. My partner is amazing and the girls at Celtic have been brilliant. The club, too, have been very supportive.

“Even now I feel like my touch isn’t quite there and I am apologising in training for making mistakes but they are all, like ‘Lisa, you’ve just had a baby!’ They have been incredibly understanding and when I leave to go home, I am going back to this beautiful baby boy.”

Not that everyone expected Robertson to wish to sustain her career.

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“I always knew that I wanted to be a Mum and I always envisioned having a family, “said Robertson. “I never questioned it. I always believed that I could have a baby and get back playing but loads of people questioned me.

“They’d see me in the gym and say “when are you stopping?” and then raise an eyebrow when I said “I’m not!”

“They just assumed that would be me once I fell pregnant. There isn’t anyone at Celtic who has been through the same thing but at Hibs Rachael Boyle has done it twice. She was and is a great support for me.

“She told me recently that she hadn’t wanted to scare me before I had Lucas by telling me how hard it would be to come back but it really has helped me to know that someone has been there and done it.

“I love being a Mum. I love motherhood. I want Lucas to be able to see me playing football. It really does drive me on every day.”

The SWPL is set to head into its split with the top and bottom six playing one another twice in the finale to the campaign.

Robertson has tentative ambitions of making it back onto the pitch before the end of the season but is wary of putting herself and her body under too much pressure to conform to a timeline.

The bigger picture is that she makes it back to become an example for her son.

“I just can’t wait for the day I have the badge back on. It will be for Lucas.”