If you enjoy cycling to work or along bike trails, you may be wondering if it is safe to ride a bike while pregnant. We have some good news for you if you are concerned about the intensity of the exercise, the way cycling draws your knees up near your baby bulge, or even the chance of falling off your bike.
People seldom glance twice when women accomplish the tree position in yoga when seven months pregnant, but riding an electric bike with a baby on board elicits anything from applause to disapproving stares and cautionary warnings. So, what does this mean for pregnant bikers on the road? Does a positive pregnancy test mean you have to put your bike away for nine months?
Most likely not.
Continued exercise, according to the American Pregnancy Association, can help reduce many common pregnancy problems (constipation, edema, and leg cramps), as well as minimize pregnancy weight gain and better prepare the body for labor and childbirth.
However, riding as a form of exercise during pregnancy is debatable. There has been little research on the subject, and there is always the risk of falling.
The traditionally conservative American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists forbids "high-risk activities" such as horseback riding and downhill skiing while pregnant, but it makes no mention of cycling. It does mention that off-road riding (which almost definitely implies mountain biking rather than riding on a trail) might be dangerous and that riding a stationary bike indoors is safer than cycling outside due to potential balance concerns that arise as your belly swells.
If you decide to continue biking, you should take some extra measures. Here are our ideas and recommendations for cycling when pregnant.
Determine Your Skill Level
Much of what you can accomplish throughout pregnancy is determined by what you were doing before becoming pregnant. Women who ride expert mountain bikes may be able to continue riding while pregnant, however, beginners should usually stick to concrete trails.
Ladies who consistently completed 50-mile road rides on Saturdays may continue to do 20-mile rides when pregnant, but rookie riders may struggle to accomplish 5.
You are the only one who knows what you are capable of and what is safe for you.
Discuss it with your doctor during your first appointment.
Tell them how much cycling you're doing now and how much you'd like to continue doing during your pregnancy. Take note if there is a medical cause for you to quit exercising. After all, it's only going to be nine months.
Scale It Back
This is not the time to "train" to enhance your speed or endurance.
How heavily you breathe is a better indicator of optimum intensity. Rides should be taken at a leisurely speed, and you should be able to converse normally throughout.
When you start to feel exhausted, it's time to call it a day. Your body is putting in a lot of additional effort when growing a kid, and there is no shame in shortening your journey.
Pay attention to your body.
Forget about how fast or far you could ride last week; what counts now is how you feel. Riding brings different obstacles during each trimester, ranging from nausea and weariness to changes in balance. So, if your body is asking you to slow down or stop, listen to it.
Your internal organs will become considerably more confined as your uterus expands to accommodate your developing baby — there's only so much room in there! You may have shortness of breath as a result of the compression — this does not exclude you from cycling when pregnant, but the golden rule remains to listen to your body.
If it's becoming too much like work and you're not enjoying it, it's time to call it quits. You don't have to keep going if you're suffering, and just because your buddy rode herself to the hospital to give birth doesn't mean your body should be able to deal with cycling. Each pregnancy is unique.
Examine your own safety.
Unfortunately, riding a commuter bike around cars is the riskiest component of biking. Stick to bike trails and low-traffic routes with wide or protected bike lanes whenever feasible.
Another factor to consider is the weather and road conditions. If the roads are sloppy with snow, ice, or wet leaves, it is better to avoid riding your bike.
Always remember basic safety precautions such as riding with lights, having a repair kit, and obeying traffic regulations.
Consume lots of water.
It might be difficult to keep hydrated during pregnancy, but it is critical for your health and the protection of your baby. Take lots of water with you, and/or arrange ahead of time for water stops along the trip. Pregnancy requires more water than usual, so keep this in mind when bicycling and bring an extra bottle.
Bring lots of water to replace fluids lost via perspiration and frequent urination. And speaking of which...
Before you need them, familiarize yourself with your bathroom alternatives.
Now that you've kept hydrated, you're confronted with the strain cycling places on your already strained bladder. While pregnancy is frequently an easy ticket to the head of the toilet line, it's still a good idea to be aware of as many restroom alternatives as possible along your journey. This is not the moment to put your hovering skills to the test in a worksite porta-potty. You can count on us on this one.
Get your tools ready.
The fit of a bike might change overnight as your belly expands (and grows and grows). Ditch the racing configuration in favor of a swept-back handlebar and become acquainted with saddle adjustments.
Enjoy the elastic layers.
Bicycling bib shorts provide additional comfort for developing tummies, while layers allow you to easily adjust to changing temperatures.
Maintain the girls' comfort.
It doesn't take long to understand that your stomach isn't the only part of you that's expanding at breakneck speed. A supportive and comfy sports bra may be liberating without feeling like a shackle around your chest.
Keep your cool.
Growing a human keeps women a little hotter than usual, so it's critical to avoid overheating. Tie a cold handkerchief around your neck while exercising to keep your temperature down, avoid exercising during the heat of the day, and use the heat as an excuse to stop for an ice cream cone.
You've had your kid; now prepare to...wait.
You might be tempted to take on the trail or go on that long ride you put off while pregnant, but loosened ligaments and connective tissue can leave postpartum bodies prone to injury. The phrase "listen to your body" does not cease once you've met your new baby.
Get rid of your expectations.
Expectations and plans, like all aspects of pregnancy and parenting, are thrown out the window when reality sets in. Take each day as it comes, and don't be concerned if you don't get back on the bike at the time you planned.
Things to Look Out For
If you suffer any of the following symptoms while exercising, stop immediately and contact your healthcare provider:
Constant or painful contractions
Shortness of breath, dizziness, or fainting (both before exercise or that does not subside after exercise)
Discomfort in the chest
Odd or novel discomfort headache
Bleeding or seeping from the vagina
Inflammation in the calf muscles
Your balance is being hampered by muscular weakness.
The Advantages of Riding Your Bike During Pregnancy
Riding your bike is not only a terrific way to keep healthy and active, but it may also be extremely beneficial to your mental health.
It reduces stress, promotes better sleep, and can boost self-esteem.
It can also help you feel more calm and aware.
Riding your bike can assist with tiredness, sleeplessness, varicose veins, and a variety of other health issues.
Women who begin cycling throughout their pregnancy may have a lower risk of getting gestational diabetes.
Riding your bike is an aerobic workout that helps clear the body of toxins, decreases stress and increases blood circulation and oxygen intake, all of which assist the fetus to grow.
A larger baby belly may make cycling more challenging, but it might help lessen pregnancy aches and nausea.
Riding your bike has also been demonstrated to:
Aid in the development of stamina for labor and delivery
Increase your energy levels and hasten your post-natal recovery.
It's also a more convenient and comfortable method for you to run errands and get some fresh air.
Walking during pregnancy might cause pelvic discomfort in some women.
Cycling, on the other hand, may assist in alleviating that discomfort and provide a much more pleasant method for you to go around your neighborhood.
If you cycled before becoming pregnant, continuing to do so can be a really great method for you to experience some normalcy and 'me time.' The same is true if you're just started to cycle and are now expecting a child. Cycling provides several physical and mental health advantages for all of us. And if you're starting to feel tired throughout your pregnancy, a simple bike ride can be precisely what you need.