via Copenhagen Cycle Chic
I really love cycling.
Not as a sport, sale more as a mode of transport. I don’t own a car, I live in the inner city and travel mostly to the CBD and other inner city suburbs, so cycling is often the fastest way for me to get from A to B.
I love the independence it gives me, to go at my own pace and not be beholden to cancelled trains, infrequent trams or traffic jams. I love that it gives me an opportunity to breathe fresh air, get my blood pumping, clear my head and enjoy my surroundings.
The conundrum I’m now facing though is whether I should cycle whilst pregnant. In my first trimester I had to reduce it to infrequent short trips because I was so bone-achingly tired all the time and a 30 minute ride would completely wind me. Now that I’m feeling a bit more energetic in my second trimester, I’m really keen to get back on the bike.
There are two opposing thoughts on whether it’s a good idea to cycle whilst pregnant.
On the one hand, many women around the world, in bike-friendly countries like Denmark and the Netherlands, wouldn’t even be asking this question. Of course they’d continue cycling, how else would they get around? There’s also an interesting articles from The Guardian bike blog and Bicycle Victoria about women who cycled throughout their pregnancy and the physical benefits they believe they’ve experienced as a result of continuing their usual riding regime.
On the other hand, in Australia I think the general thinking is that you stop cycling when you’re pregnant. My obstetrician said that he thought it was ok for me to cycle up till 20 weeks. But after 20 weeks, if I fell off my bike and onto my stomach then I could cause serious damage to my baby.
As with doing anything in pregnancy, it’s all about the amount of risk I’m willing to take. I ride reasonably upright, pretty slowly (and even more slowly now that I’m pregnant) and am definitely not a gung-ho rider. I don’t take stupid risks, I follow road rules and I feel entirely comfortable getting off and walking my bike if I feel in danger or unsafe.
On the other hand, whether we like it to admit it or not, Melbourne’s cycling infrastructure is not as safe as the cycling infrastructure in Denmark, Netherlands, or even the super-wide bus lanes of Central London, unless you’re going completely off-road, say along the Yarra trail. The majority of the time I ride city streets with narrow bike lanes or no bike lanes at all, and if I’m to switch to purely recreational riding for exercise I’d rather use a stationary bike at the gym so that I can read a book at the same time :)
Anyway, I’m yet to come to my own conclusions about what I feel comfortable doing, so I’d be interested to hear if you have any advice or experiences of cycling whilst pregnant.