Zara Philips is in the headlines yet again after riding at Gatcombe horse trials taking part in the Dressage section at approx 4-5 months pregnant. This is just a few weeks after she competed at the Barbury Horse Trials where she took a fall and yes a Polo Event at 4 months pregnant.
|Zara Philips 4 months pregnant at a Polo Event|
As an ex age group triathlete I can understand how professional athletes feel when they are pregnant and how they may wonder if they can continue their chosen sport which is often their job, safely during their pregnancy.
Some outsiders may say that they should not be pregnant if this is their focus?!
I say, why take that risk? It is not worth it and there are alternative sports and exercises that women can do during their pregnant months.
There are many sports that are safe to continue to do during pregnancy running, cycling and swimming for instance. There are also many sports that can be continued with modifications golf, tennis and weightlifting are just a few examples.
Sports that carry a Risk:
Sports not to do after the first trimester would be contact sports and sports that have an increased risk of injury.
Pregnancy is not a time to challenge yourself or prove a point!
Zara Philips Riding at Barbery
Horse Riding During Pregnancy
Now I am also an ex 3 day event rider! Women who have rode for years and have a deep understanding with their horses can continue riding safely at theirs and their babies risk, but this is not galloping around fields, jumping cross country fences or taking on polo which all increase the risk of a fall and abdominal trauma. It could just be a casual hack around the farm but again this could still cause a risk if the horse got spooked!
As a triathlete even though it is safe to continue I gave up road cycling almost immediately as I myself didn't want to take the risk of getting hit by a car, the roads here in NZ are terrible and many of my friends have been knocked off their bikes. I chose the alternative-indoor cycling.
Why are some sports more of a risk?
Once your uterus becomes an abdominal organ, it has grown in size and moved upwards out of the safety of the pelvis which normally happens around 14-16 weeks then blunt abdominal trauma can damage the pregnancy.
So it would seem like common sense for a women to modify or eliminate performing exercise that carries a high risk of abdominal trauma horse riding, water skiing, serious rock climbing, or the like.
So no I don't think that Zara Philips should be jumping fences and putting herself and her baby at risk I can only think that as a first time mom she has no conception of just how lucky she is to be pregnant?
Instead of trying to continue to compete and take risks I think that she should be training for her pregnancy in the same way she would train for a riding event, with serious planning!
Focus on commitment, flexibility and compromise which in the end equate to success. Preparing specifically but safely for pregnancy, labour, birth and baby if she does that then she will truly cherish the Gold Medal award that awaits her.