When I was pregnant with my third child I was taking lessons at a local barn on my friend's horse. For each of my previous pregnancies I had also been taking lessons and as soon as I announced my pregnancy I was banished from the barn and told to come back once I had delivered. I got it. No one wants a pregnant woman as a liability.
With two small kids at home though, riding was the link to my sanity and I did NOT want to give it up this time. Of course, I also did not want to jeopardize my baby so I talked to my doctor about the effects of riding on my unborn little girl. He said the riding itself was not going to hurt her and even a fall probably would not hurt her as a woman's body protects the fetus very well. HOWEVER, a fall serious enough to hurt me could have repercussions as either the treatments required to cure me could be harmful or they would have to withhold treatments in order to protect my child. So the answer was go ahead and ride but .. DON'T FALL OFF.
If you are a rider, you know that is easier said than done. But again.. my sanity... I needed to ride or I would go nuts.
So I decided to ride and just be as safe as possible. I only rode horses that were very safe. I only did trail rides on horses that you could put a child on and then only at a walk. When working in the ring (and the trail as well), I always had someone there watching. And I didn't do anything that was too difficult for either me or my horse.
It worked for me. I know this is a personal decision that every woman rider needs to make on her own. For me, my sanity was worth the small risk I felt I was taking.
Everything went well until I was at the very end of my pregnancy. I was 30+ weeks pregnant and LARGE. I never did look like those women who have a cute little baby bumps resembling a small pea sticking out of their shirt. I looked more like I had stuffed a newborn elephant up my shirt and it was trying to escape. I felt like I looked normal and was always shocked when I looked in a mirror and saw that ginormous belly sticking out front -- really, how could I even be walking?
Back then (I delivered my last kid in 2001), maternity clothes were not the cool fashion statement they are now. Jeans were topped with a large white elastic band that strapped across the aforementioned large belly and, if it was posssible, made the belly look even larger. To hide the ugly fashion, you wore floating shirts that resembled a large Hawaiian mu mu. Pure elegance!
As I was reaching the end of my pregnancy, I decided to go out for one last ride. It was a beautiful summer day and there were a lot of people hanging around the barn. Riders and their families. As I rode around the ring, several people including some of the husbands were leaning on the fence watching.
I had been working on getting a solid simple canter change through a trot and never could quite get it. Finally today, it was clicking! Hurray!
In the last few minutes of my ride I was cantering a nice easy congratulatory loop around the ring and noticed people were watching a bit more intently. No more lazy lounging in the sun look. They must have seen our great change and were impressed!
Nope -- it wasn't looks of admiration I was seeing... as I transitioned down to a trot I noticed that my shirt had inched up and was now fully sitting on top of my belly and the large elastic band was hanging triumphantly out waving at all to see.
So I hung up my spurs that day with determination that the next time they saw me I certainly would not be sporting a big belly band!
My daughter was born a few weeks later, healthy, and to a sane and happy mom. And yup, just four weeks later I was at the barn riding around that same ring... sans belly band.