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Those who ride A LOT and giving birth question... (might be personal)

(15 Posts)
Southwestwhippet Mon 10-Aug-09 21:09:44

I ride for a living. Well, I'm a riding instructor and exercising the ponies is part of my job. I also ride for pleasure on my own horse. Up until I got pregnant I could be riding up to 5 horses a day so I am very riding-fit IYKWIM.

I've heard some horror stories about giving birth if you are a serious horse rider, basically that you are more likely to tear as the muscles 'down there' tend to be very thick and strong. I am aware from riding that I do use my lower abdominals and pelvic floor muscles to support myself and balance/control my horse so this makes sense.

In the early stages of pregnancy I had some AWFUL cramps - at times I was doubled over with them - which I put down to very very tight, tough, strong muscles loosening and stretching. I'm now worried that all the horror stories I've heard about labour for horse-women are true.

Anyone got any experience of this? Also, after birth, how long did it take to get those muscles back and did you notice a profound difference coming back to riding after having a baby? thanks

skihorse Tue 11-Aug-09 11:04:16

I'm quietly weeping now at the thought of my hard-earned abs being ripped apart. shock

Sorry, I can't help you with this as I'm not yet pg - but I suppose all we can do is look at all the competitive female riders who are back in the saddle - particularly the eventers. I'd have thought dressage-knickers and a seat-saver might be your loving friends for a time though! wink

HairyMuff Tue 11-Aug-09 22:39:13

Oh god if you want an honest answer my pelvic floor was shot after squeezing 2 kids out shock. I rode from the age of 8 virtually everyday until I had the kids (aged 30) and like you thought I'd have a cast iron pelvic floor.

I need to summon up the courage to see the doctor as I now cannot ride without the use of Mrs Tena and her Ladyfriends. Don't know how many of my horsey mum friends have this problem as am too embarrassed to tell them blush

To be honest, if someone had suggested getting back on a horse after giving birth I'd probably have thumped them one (I ended up with a 10 year break and have just got back into it).

Give your body plenty of time to recover. I also have a weirdly strong sense of self preservation now and am a bit of a wuss when riding now which is something I never had pre-kids.

But at the end of the day we're all different and you may sail through it and be back in the saddle, pelvic floor intact <<hopeful praying emotion>>

skihorse Wed 12-Aug-09 11:16:07

shock you're making me want to go out and buy condoms! wink

TheMoreItSnows Wed 12-Aug-09 11:44:08

I'm a regular rider, although not quite as much as you these days, 2 kids down, 1 minimal tear with the first, no stitches, and nothing with the second.

My advice? Go with a waterbirth - keeps everything nice and soft and stretchy!!

Southwestwhippet Wed 12-Aug-09 22:10:10

I'm not planning to rush back onto a horse believe you me! My pony is notoriously sharp and after a couple of months off is liable to be interesting to say the least!

I'm planning a home waterbirth so hopefully this will help everything [crosses fingers]. It seems almost selfish to be worrying about this sort of stuff when the baby is no1 priority but horseriding has been a fundamental (primary) part of my life for so many years, I'm finding it hard to imagine a life which doesn't involve it as much grin

HM, poor you, that sounds a right pain, I hope your doctor is able to help. I suspect I will be more 'wussy' after the birth, lots of people tell me this happens and I definitely lost some confidence after fracturing my spine 2 years ago so am all too aware of my own vulnerability.

thanks everyone for the replies. Good luck ski horse

Nekabu Thu 13-Aug-09 18:08:51

A friend of mine rides professionally and had two vaginal births with no problems and no or minimal tears (though I think the midwives had to wear catchers mitts as she fired her babies out so swiftly!) She rode reasonably soon after both births and has been fine. I think you just need to play it by ear and see how you feel.

bandanna Thu 20-Aug-09 16:36:04

My sister rode til late in both her pregnancies and I'm sorry to tell you she had a very tough time which midwives and docs put down to her toughened perineum through riding. With her first she rode for longer and ended up with a very unusual "star" shaped tear. She stopped sooner with number 2!

DressageNut Thu 15-Oct-09 09:19:55

I have ridden seriously since my early teens and reached a fairly high level dressage-wise before/during giving birth to my two DCs. First birth was a c-section (baby in extended breech position and refused to turn) but the second was vaginal and it wasn't especially easy! I am not sure whether it was down to riding as i didn't mention it at the time to the docs but they did comment on the muscles in the relevant area being very thick and not particularly flexible. At one point they told me that there was a thick band of muscle over the baby's head which they had never seen happen before (!!). I ended up with a couple of stitches - could have been worse though...

On the plus side I managed to get back on board within two weeks and the lower abs/pelvic muscles went back into shape very quickly.

The biggest change has been my attitude. No more leaping onto difficult/sharp horses without a second thought. If I'm being generous I call it "being more risk-aware"; but if I'm being blunt I call myself a bit of a wimp!

againandagain Thu 15-Oct-09 10:43:51

I have ridden forever and its been my living since I was 16, and for several years have ridden up to 10 a day. I did end up with a second degree tear and was told this was because I was pushing too hard because I had very strong muscles. However I rode again once the stitches had settled down around 4 weeks after giving birth, and to be honest I felt no different.

MrFibble Sat 24-Oct-09 20:07:14

I was told by my current doctor that horseriders have perimiums like concrete but that it is not necessarily a bad thing...

My own experience is that I rode up to 7 months pregnant but was induced nearly 3 weeks early and tore badly - but I think this was due to the heavy handed approach of previous doctor. For DS the birth was loads better, easy natural birth, small cut but no tear. Mind you it took me nearly a year to get back into the saddle after him due to SPD!

Callisto Sat 24-Oct-09 20:47:15

Yep, my midwife told me that my perineum was as tough as old saddle leather (charming). She made a cut in it and I had a couple of stitches afterwards, no big deal. I was riding everyday up until 8 months pg and I'm sure that being so fit and having strong muscles helped me.

If you're worried about your perineum I've heard that regular massage with almond oil works wonders grin.

Southwestwhippet Sat 24-Oct-09 21:11:54

thanks everyone for replies, I am still checking this thread occasionally for updates and experiences.

Not riding much at the moment to be honest as get really bad stich like pains in my stomach when I do. Pony is luxuriating in field and occasionaly being lunged - much to his horror grin

Ariela Sat 31-Oct-09 12:04:16

I would recommend reading up anything by Jean Sutton on optimal Foetal Positioning. Basically if you can help your baby by getting everything in situ for the most easy exit for your baby, then you're least likely to have problems even if you do have well developed muscles in that area.

horseymum Mon 02-Nov-09 21:11:30

Hi, when are you due? I rode up to about 7 months with ds 1 and 6 months with dd2. I think I was pretty fit before ds1 which helped. Did however have to have lots of stitches both times. Back on my horse within about 8 days both times but be ready for those muscles to be very loose! I fell off when in walk as my horse whipped round! She stood on my lower abdomen and thankfully did not have to explain hoof-shaped bruise at six week check as it had mostly faded by then!! Also experienced big loss in confidence, especially in jumping. First canters in open fields with hubby watching and baby in carrier ( i was secretly holding the mane in case a pheasant jumped out or something!) Went to a xc clinic which was my bosses new baby present to me 6 weeks later and fell off twice! was gutted but am now partly resigned to it. I wore my body protector a lot more as it helped keep everything in place when breast feeding chest was very uncomfortable to trot!

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