As an avid equestrian and a newer mother, I’ve had concerns over whether riding horses can cause a miscarriage. I decided to do some research on this since I’m planning on having another baby in the future and want to know the truth.
Can riding horses cause a miscarriage? According to my research riding horses does not cause miscarriages. Even show jumping or professional riders showed no evidence for an increased rate of miscarriages or preterm delivery. However traumatic falls and kicks to the stomach cause an increased risk of having a miscarriage.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, this is just what I have found out through research, so make sure you find a doctor you trust and discuss any concerns about riding or your pregnancy you have with them.
Even though horseback riding does not cause a miscarriage in itself, it is not void of risks towards your pregnancy. Let’s go a little deeper into the risks associated with being around horses and riding them to learn more about miscarriages as well as what typically causes them.
Risks Of Miscarriage Associated With Riding Horses As A Pregnant Woman
Important!!! If you have fallen or had an accident, it’s important to call your doctor or midwife immediately, even if you don’t think that the accident was that bad or don’t feel hurt.
Although the riding by itself won’t cause a miscarriage it was mentioned that a traumatic fall can increase the risk of having one. This is true but there are different factors to consider here. Just because you fall off a horse while riding doesn’t mean that you will necessarily have a miscarriage or even cause your baby to have an injury.
Your baby is protected in your belly surrounded by amniotic fluid, which is designed to protect the baby and absorb shock. Your pregnant body is specifically designed to protect your unborn baby during minor accidents, including minor falls when you are walking around.
In early pregnancy, because the baby is super tiny and the positioning of the baby is protected by the pelvis and the amniotic fluid, it makes it hard to have a miscarriage even with a bad fall.
There is a risk of a placental abruption, which would lead to a miscarriage. However, this requires extreme trauma, such as falling violently down an entire flight of stairs. Even then, the chances of a miscarriage at this early stage in the pregnancy are incredibly low.Hawlaw- Can A Slip And Fall Cause A Miscarriage
As the pregnancy moves into the second trimester and onward the risk of miscarriage increases. There is less amniotic bumper space to protect the baby and as the baby grows they begin to rise above the pelvic bone, where they become a bit more exposed and less protected. However the amniotic fluid still acts as protection and shock absorption, it is just not as effective in the later stages of pregnancy.
The real risk of miscarriage happens when a bad fall occurs, where the mother, lands on and causes trauma to her stomach. So you have to weigh the risks and decide if it is worth it.
Factors To Consider For Increased Risk Of Falling Off Horse
- Green, young, high energy, unbalanced, or spooky horses
- Inexperienced rider
- Your belly is getting bigger and heavier putting rider more off balance
- Joints are looser from pregnancy hormones making the rider more unbalanced
- Riding in new places
- Riding a horse that is inconsistently ridden
- Horse tripping
- Horse spooking or shying
- Horse bucking or rearing
Getting Kicked In The Stomach By A Horse
I just read a story about a woman 39 weeks pregnant that got, double barrel kicked on the side of her stomach, turning her horse out to a paddock. Thank God her baby was safe and okay. The horse happened to turn to kick at another horse, not trying to kick her on purpose
This is the reality of horses. Although I don’t see people getting kicked as much as non-horse people might think. Personally I have been kicked really hard on my thigh. Not my horse kicking me though. And in total, I’ve been kicked twice out of my 20 plus years around horses.
My horse was on cross ties, a boarder wanted to come by with her mare. I moved the cross tie out of the way, moved my horse to the side. The mare walked passed then stopped and she ran backward to kick at my horse.
I happened to be standing in front of my horse. The mare kicked over and over and I ended up getting pinned against the wall. The owner was in a daze and was having trouble getting the mare away from me.
The barn owner saw what was happening came over and smacked the horse with a crop a few times. And she scooted forward and away as if nothing happened.
I got kicked on my sides, back and legs but my left thigh got the most damage. I thought I broke my leg at first, but I could walk or shuffle on it. I never went to the doctors to get checked out and luckily have been fine since.
But I got a huge bruise covering my whole thigh and a hematoma. I now have a horseshoe dent in my thigh right above my knee which was barely missed.
What’s the point of these stories?
It is possible you can get kicked even with a sweet calm horse. You never know that sweet calm horse that loves people may try to kick another horse, get stung by a bee and kick out, have a sore hind leg and kick out when you try to pick out feet.
Basically be aware of the risks and be extra cautious when you are pregnant, follow your gut if something doesn’t feel right.
Placental Abruption And Riding Horses
You may have heard that placental abruption can be caused by bouncing around and jostling while horseback riding. Placental abruption often happens suddenly, but can sometimes develop slowly called chronic abruption. This is a serious problem and requires immediate attention.
However, it is uncommon in pregnancy and occurs most often in the third trimester.
Placental abruption occurs when the placenta partly or completely separates from the inner wall of the uterus before delivery. This can decrease or block the baby’s supply of oxygen and nutrients and cause heavy bleeding in the mother.Mayo Clinic
Possible known causes of placental abruption are thought to be trauma, injury to the stomach or rapid loss of amniotic fluid, but many times the causes are unknown.
A study done on over 7 million births in 1995 and 1996 discovered that 119 out of 1000 births with placental abruption ended up dying in miscarriage.
Risk Factors For Placental Abruption
- Placental abruption from a previous pregnancy that was not caused by trauma or injury
- Hypertension or chronic high blood pressure
- Problems during pregnancy, including preeclampsia, HELLP syndrome or eclampsia which are complications from hypertension.
- A fall or injury to the abdomen
- Cocaine use during pregnancy
- Amniotic fluid leaking out before the end of pregnancy
- Infection inside of the uterus during pregnancy (chorioamnionitis)
- Over the age of 35
As you can see horse riding is a risk for placental abruption when you consider the possibility of falling off and landing on your stomach. However the jostling and bouncing while riding is not the likely cause.
Common Causes Of Miscarriage
Roughly half of miscarriages happen in the first trimester which are caused by abnormal chromosomes that may be inherited or be spontaneous in the mother’s egg or father’s sperm.
Chromosomes carry the basic genes that will be inherited. These genes determine blood type, eye and hair color, gender and physical characteristics. Most issues with the chromosomes are not related to health problems from the mother or father but happen by chance.
Factors That May Contribute To Having A Miscarriage
- Over the age of 35
- Hormone problems
- Uterus abnormalities
- Already having miscarriages in previous pregnancies
- After having abortions
- Fertilized egg not implanting in the uterus properly
- Having an infection
- Severely underweight and lacking in nutrition
- Exposure to toxins or radiation on a regular basis.
- The cervix begins to widen and open too early in the middle of pregnancy
- Immune disorders
- Medical disorders such as severe kidney disease, congenital heart disease, diabetes, thyroid disease
- Group B beta strep
- Certain medicines, such as the acne drug isotretinoin (Accutane®)
- Smoking, drinking alcohol or using illegal drugs
Symptoms Of A Miscarriage
In case you are worried that you may potentially be having a miscarriage and want to know the symptoms WebMD says:
Immediate call your doctor with any of these symptoms!
If you are really worried about having a miscarriage from riding and would never be able to forgive yourself if something bad happened to your baby, then don’t ride.
You don’t have to ride while you are pregnant, even if you own a horse. You have other options. Find a leaser, find an experienced horseless rider, let your horse take a vacation. Learn new ways you can bond with your horse from the ground.
If you are really concerned, ride after your baby is born, after you are recovered and healed up and after you are settled into your new routine. The horses will still be there and you have the opportunity to work on getting back to your original riding level and if your ambitions get better than you were before.
Did you find this article helpful? Check out:
- Returning To Riding Horses After A Baby: What To Expect
- Working On A Horse Farm During Pregnancy: Is It Safe To Work At The Barn When Pregnant?
- How Soon You Can Horseback Ride After Having A Baby
- What Are The Benefits Of Horse Riding While Pregnant?
- How You Can Improve Your Riding Skills Without A Horse