10 Aug A whole new world…returning to riding after baby
by brittany reside from leeara park
Team member Brittany had her first baby last year, and in this blog post shares her take on the new world that is returning to riding post-bub!
I wanted to write this blog as many people wonder what it’s like to continue doing horses after having a baby. I know myself, I didn’t know what to expect.
Before I had a baby I remember thinking that it would be fairly easy to bounce right back into riding after childbirth. The baby will just do everything I do, he or she will sleep while I ride, feed easily, settle quickly. I am sitting here giggling at my pre-baby self!
Oh that is SO not the case, it really is a whole new world….
During my pregnancy, I rode up to about 26 weeks, just short of reaching the third trimester. I was lucky enough that despite my lack of iron, I was pretty healthy throughout. I ensured that I only rode the horses that I knew were quite trustworthy and wouldn’t put up much of a challenge in terms of behaviour!
Apart from losing a bit of balance and having slightly less core strength, I was able to ride as normal.
I continued throughout the third trimester walking our horses up the hill to their stables, feeding morning and night, lunging and bathing the team – who I must say looked a million bucks but unfortunately had nowhere to go thanks to Covid! I attended SHC Horse of the Year on October 24th and, thanks to the 40 degree day, I went into labour that night!
Paityn was delivered at 10:01pm, October 25th after a whopping 26 hour labour.
The first few weeks...
The first two weeks after having Paityn were probably the most challenging of my life!
A combination of sleep deprivation, hormones, and a body trying to heal of course! Plus I choose to breast feed so that was an art in itself to learn. All this whilst working out what this gorgeous little newborn bundle was trying to communicate to me!
I certainly knew how to read a horse back to front, but this beautiful baby in front of me was a whole new learning curve.
I looked down at her sleeping peacefully in my arms after changing, feeding and rocking her to sleep – absolutely beautiful. This was what my days consisted of now. As each day was a new learning experience for Paityn, it was also a new learning experience for me! We were teaching each other, day in, day out.
I was lucky enough to have my sister Caris take over the horses full time while I worked out the beginnings of how to ‘be a mum’. It was a lot of extra work for her and for Mum and Dad, but they all chipped in and did what they could so that I felt like I didn’t have to race back to the stables.
I lasted a week being away from the farm, and at a week old, two days out of hospital, Rocky, my husband, our beautiful daughter Paityn and I had a morning at the farm. In between feeds, Caris and I worked the horses together and Paityn was a sleeping angel…
It certainly hasn’t all been completely smooth sailing though, it has been a journey day in, day out. My advice is to take your time and don’t be in a mad rush to get back in the saddle. Having a child is a huge thing so I think it is important to enjoy that experience and come back to riding when you feel ready.
Patience is key. I didn’t have the easiest of births so it was hard for me waiting for my body to heal enough for me to get back on, as I was certainly missing it.
I chose to wait for my physio to clear me for exercise and rode at 8 weeks postpartum. As our horses were on spell over summer, it did make it easier for me not being able to ride as they weren’t actually in work!
In general after having a baby doctors say to give yourself six weeks of recovery time before doing regular exercise. But the real answer is…it is different for every mum when they can or want to go back to riding.
A few thoughts on returning to riding post-baby...
1. It takes time to build your riding fitness up again!
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. It can take months to get your fitness back up to be able to compete at the level you were competing at before you had your baby. This is different for everyone, though.
My abs are still not as strong as they used to be however each ride I do feel stronger. I found concentrating on building my abdominal muscles back up helped to strengthen my core and regain greater balance back whilst riding.
2. Try not to feel guilty about spending time away from your baby
I feel that I am a pretty relaxed mum, BUT I certainly felt guilty when I didn’t have Paityn with me 24/7, and still do sometimes! But try not to if this is the case for you. Self-care is exceptionally important, I believe if you take some time to do what you love and recharge, then it will make you a better mum if you feel refreshed and re-energised. I remember the first time I left Paityn was to move our horses out of the line of the Gidgegannup bushfire. It felt like the longest four hours of my life, but thankfully she was just fine at home with her Dad and a bottle of expressed milk!
3. Your weekly schedule will change!
Instead of sleep, feed horses AM, go to work (I am a qualified early childhood teacher), work/feed horses PM, repeat – a schedule that I have been accustomed to for some time, I have had to build a new weekly schedule now revolving around nap times, swimming lessons, rhyme times, and so on!
I try to work horses on a daily basis, lunging is easy and I do this on my own with Paityn, however riding I usually need to work around when someone can give me a hand.
My family are exceptionally helpful and I honestly wouldn’t be able to do as much as I do with the horses without such amazing support from them. Whether it is pushing Paityn in the pram for a nap (Nanny’s specialty), feeding her a meal (now that she is on solids also), or performing a nursery rhyme concert (as Poppy calls it!) to entertain our little girl.
You just do what you need to do to make it work. It certainly gives me peace of mind when I am riding, knowing that Paityn is happy and engaged with family, which allows me to fully concentrate on educating the horses.
4. Your Child may or may not share your love of horses...
I have had many a people comment that maybe Paityn might not like horses. And to be honest she might not. But she appears to be fascinated by them and absolutely loves patting them and watching them lunge, so here’s hoping! Aunty Caris has taken on the task of teaching Paityn how to pat the horses gently, and yes she has already had her first sit! Truth being said though, we of course will support her and encourage her, whatever her passion may be.
The joy that a little person brings to not only myself and her dad, but to her extended family as well is just priceless. Horsey things certainly take a lot longer these days, and loads of patience, but I absolutely wouldn’t change it for the world.
I had a giggle with Caris the other day whilst we were both siting on the feed buggy doing the feed run with Paityn in the middle of us. All three of us were rugged up as it was absolutely pouring down.
We laughed and said ‘now we need to sort Winter out with a baby in the team! Summer is certainly easier than Winter’!
Bring it on…..