As the Bike Dads, we know a lot about biking and we’re on a journey to get our kids into the biking lifestyle. You may be thinking, what on earth do we know about being pregnant? The short answer, nothing! That’s why we asked a few biker Mamas for their thoughts on riding while pregnant.
Disclaimer- We are not telling anyone what to do, we are simply sharing some opinions of cyclists we respect. Always check first with your doctor before biking while pregnant.
Recently I had a conversation with another biker on how he didn’t think biking would be a good idea for his pregnant wife. It made me pause and think, not to question or disagree with him, but I wanted to reach out and see what some other bike Mamas did during their pregnancies.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, here’s some further info on exercising while pregnant:
During my wife’s pregnancy, she continued to do all the regular activities she did before she was pregnant. She went to yoga, went snowboarding and continued to ride her bike but dialed it back.
The internet is filled with hundreds of articles on running and pregnancy but doesn’t seem to have the same information around biking while pregnant. We altered our normal pace and she stuck to the trails that she knew well. Everything was based on how my wife was feeling. When she felt ok to bike, she did. Vanessa strapped a heart rate monitor on and put the watch to the handlebars of her bike. When her heart rate got to 140bpm, she stopped, walked the hills and took it easy. It was a great way to still stay active, get to the mountains as a couple and introduce biking to our little peanut.
To start my research journey, I reached out to the most hardcore Momma Biker I know- Stephanie Nychka and she said I should have a look at the pinkbike article about Rad Moms
The picture of Stephanie Nychka that caused quite the stir in the internet world of keyboard jockeys.
Here are Steph’s thoughts on Biking While Pregnant:
Only a rider can know the depth of her comfort with the terrain, the breadth of her skills and the confidence she has on any given day. Each day can bring a different rider to her bike, and pregnancy makes the differences from day to day even more apparent (depending on the combination of hormones, discomfort, fatigue, mental awareness, etc.).
On my good days I was as comfortable riding any trails or jumps (and even performing whatever small bag of tricks I have), as I would be had I not been pregnant. I’ve ridden, coached and competed to 7 months in each of my three pregnancies and the worst I’ve ever injured myself is falling down the stairs in my own home. Once when I was coaching in Seattle, my hand slipped off the handlebars while teaching front wheel lifts and I had road rash down my side and elbow.
Risk is relative. Had I not ridden my bike or lifted weights to the end of my pregnancy I’m certain my musculature and cardio would have suffered, and I would not have bounced back as easily. If I decided just to go on long walks instead of ride, I could have been hit by a car crossing the street. It’s a sensitive subject because only YOU know what you are capable of, and people have a tendency to judge situations they can’t relate to.
The next person I ask for her opinion was an avid mountain biker named Kelly Hazlegrove. She has written some great articles on www.crankjoy.com and here were her thoughts:
Mountain biking was a crucial part of maintaining my sanity and fitness while pregnant. I rode singletrack until I was about 7.5 months along, and after that I stuck to doubletrack and pavement.
This was a very personal decision and everyone should talk to their own physician before embarking on a pregnant mountain biking lifestyle. Above all my goal was to maintain and protect the health and safety of my unborn baby. I am a good technical rider, downhiller, and am an IMBA certified instructor, plus I had the blessing of my mountain biker OB/GYN. She said I could ride CAREFULLY as long as I didn’t crash. I wore my husband’s cycling spandex bibs for belly comfort…like over the jersey, y’all. This made bathroom breaks much easier…and I was taking lots of bathroom breaks!
Late in my pregnancy I added a stem-extender so that I could be more upright. This kept me riding roads but ruled out singletrack. From a safety standpoint the bigger I got, the more slowly I rode and the choosier I was about trail selection. I used a dropper seatpost that always made me feel safer on the downhills. I used my brakes A LOT more than normal and I would walk sections that used to be no problem, just to be safe. I really had to check my ego and remember I was doing this for my health, my baby’s health, and because I am not quite “me” without mountain biking in my life.
The last person I reached out to was Madi Carlson. Her site http://familyride.us/ is a great source for people looking to commute with your family by bike. She is Board President for Familybike Seattle and wrote a really cool book on how bike commuting can change your life called URBAN CYCLING:.
I didn’t bike while pregnant with my first! I wish I had. I was telecommuting 80 hours a week and so tired in my first trimester that I switched from working on my desktop to my laptop and turned the speakers up all the way so the ping of new emails would wake me from sleeping on the couch. And then I stayed pretty inactive for the second and third trimesters, just swimming when I could find time from work. I know that biking would have helped my energy level so much,but without a work commute it just didn’t happen. Plus I fell prey to the mindset that pregnancy = fragile state and it never occurred to me biking was OK. So sad. Also, I was only on the road, carting my toddler around to playdates when I was pregnant the second time. I only just mountain biked for the first time in ten years (and it was a blast!).
*Now* I firmly believe that anything you do before you were pregnant, you can do once you’re pregnant, be it running or mountain biking, but I just don’t personally do either of those regularly 🙂
Well there you have some thoughts and opinions from some different Bikemoms who integrated exercise and biking into their pregnancy journey. Always remember to consult your Doctor first and know that if you are not a avid or comfortable rider before you were pregnant, now is probably not the time to start.
Jack from www.thebikedads.com
Another great top 10 list from the hardworking People for Bikes organization:http://www.peopleforbikes.org/blog/entry/baby-on-board-10-tips-for-riding-while-pregnant
More information about exercise while pregnant-