Earlier on in my pregnancy I wondered out loud via this blog whether it’s a good idea to cycle whilst pregnant.
Well, having now reached 40 weeks + 5 days I can say unequivocally the answer is YES.
The photo above was taken at 40 weeks + 4 days in front of my obstetrician’s surgery. Yes, that’s right, despite my doctor’s suggestion to stop riding at 20 weeks, I have been riding to almost every appointment and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Most people seem shocked or bemused when I tell them that I’m still on the bike and I have never seen a pregnant woman on a bike myself. So for those of you who are unsure about whether or not cycle whilst pregnant, I want to encourage you by saying that it’s absolutely possible if you feel comfortable with the idea and if you’re used to day to day on-road riding.
Cycling has allowed me to be mobile even in the last throes of pregnancy. Since 36 weeks I’ve developed a bad case of cankles and walking isn’t much fun, what with the swelling and the weight of the baby in the front. Even walking a couple of blocks to the tram stop is uncomfortable. With wheels I can just roll my way door to door from home to the supermarket, the post office and the movies. My panniers also mean that I’m able to carry heavier stuff around, even if it means leaving it at the bottom of the stairs when I get home and getting my husband to carry it up for me.
Cycling to do my errands also allows me to fit a little bit of exercise into my day. While I know that swimming is great exercise for pregnancy, I really don’t enjoy swimming, but I do love cycling and I think it provides the same ‘weight-off-your-feet’ benefits as swimming . I’m sure that cycling has helped keep my energy levels up even when heavily pregnant and I’m hoping that it will help with bouncing back from 9 months of weight gain.
I haven’t felt unsafe on my bike, either from traffic or a lack of balance. As you can see, I ride fairly upright so it’s a very comfortable position with a big belly and I haven’t found pregnancy to affect my balance at all. As for traffic, I do a lot more travelling on the footpath now. I know it’s technically illegal but I figure who’s going to stop a heavily pregnant lady from cycling off the road.
There are a couple of concessions I’ve made to my normal cycling routine. I no longer wear heels as I need to be able to have a firm grip on the pedals or the ground if need be. I travel only short distances eg less than 20 minutes at a time. I avoid big hills at all costs and ride very, very slowly. I carry deodorant and a water bottle everywhere as I get hot and puffed (and a bit smelly) a lot quicker.
Will I be cycling to the hospital? Hard to say. I don’t think so, mostly because my hospital bag is a wheelie suitcase and having never had a baby I’m not sure what my tolerance for contractions will be. But I do take inspiration from this Montana woman who biked to hospital the day her daughter was born.
I somewhat reluctantly got on the bike and, to my surprise, enjoyed every minute of the ride, even when I was having a contraction. Despite all the dire warnings that I would crash my bike when the pain hit, I found that I could power through it. In fact, the contractions on the bike were the easiest to bear because I was distracted and doing something I love.
Posted: 11th February 2011