I GOT SO many questions about riding through pregnancy and getting back in the saddle after giving birth, both from students and fellow professionals, that I decided to write a post about some key things to think about if you’re heading for the bump but don’t want to give up your pony passion. So here we go:
- Keep moving. The more you stay healthy and moving throughout your pregnancy the easier it will be to get back after giving birth. I competed until I was just into month 7 of my pregnancy, I rode into month 8, and I did a kind yoga routine as well as going for walks literally every day until the day before I gave birth.
- Educate yourself. Even if you never know what type of birth you will go through, there is so much you can learn about giving birth that will increase your chances of an uncomplicated delivery. The less interventions, the less time to get back. If you are able to, hire a doula, or at least I’d recommend to attend a hypno birthing course (I did both and gave birth at home:). At the very minimum please read Ina May’s book Guide to Childbirth to make sure you get rid of any fear or tensions you might hold about giving birth. It’s more important then most of us think of.
- Take the time to rest in the beginning. Its soooo easy to jump out of bed and try to get back too quickly. The thing is that that will only make your recovery take longer. I found this really hard and would’ve got back quicker if I didn’t knew better. Try your best to be gentle and stay on the ground the first 6 weeks. I got back to walks and yoga about three weeks post birth, and then was fine to ride at 6! If you had a Caesarian delivery please wait longer (around 3 month) for your core to heal back.
- Care for your core and pelvic floor. Diastasis recti is the partial or complete separation of the abdominis, or “six-pack” muscles, which meet at the midline of your stomach. Those muscles always separate during pregnancy and they need to close again before you can push them to work hard. Luckily there are exercises you can do at home to help those muscles get back. Same goes for the pelvic floor, and those exercises you can start almost immediately after birth. Try to do them three times a day and go as strong as you can to make the very very important pelvic floor muscles strong again (not just toned!). I used help from a professional physiotherapist to get things right, but you can also just google or youtube it if you don’t need your core for professional work. Just make sure to keep those exercises going. For weeeeeeks.
Tata! Be gentle and know what you’re doing and you might even return better then ever. <3