"http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> urbanMamas

Cycling while pregnant: Have you?

There are mamas among us who love to bike, even while pregnant.  Shout outs to the urbanMama photographed here, at 8 months pregnant (photo credit to Jonathan Maus of bikeportland.org).  Colleen recently emailed, though, and would like to hear from all of you: Have you biked while pregnant?  Did you stop biking during pregnancy?

Juli_at_8_mos_2

I bike to and from work each day (just under 6 miles each way) and it's a gift. I'm able to squeeze in some exercise without having to set aside time (read: w/o having to wake up even earlier than my two-year-old and/or sacrifice time spent with her) and by doing something that I have to do anyway (get to and from work). It also keeps me sane during the winter months.

We are now considering adding to our family, but I'm concerned about whether or not my daily bike ride would be ok while pregnant. Since finding time to exercise wasn't much of an issue pre-baby #1, and cycling to and from anywhere wasn't possible in the town in which we were living at the time, this is a new complication. And frankly, giving up this part of my life up, even for a short period of time, is potentially a real sanity breaker for me.

I expect this is something that I'd have to cover with my care provider, but I'm wondering what other cycling urbanMamas have done. If you continued to cycle, what was your experience like?  Did the shift in your center of gravity throw you off?  Did your belly get in the way of your legs while pedaling?  Did you get weird stares?

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I can't comment on biking, but when I was 8 months pregnant & walked into the Viscount I was grabbed by someone who was very concerned about my salsa dancing with such a belly. It had never occurred to me to talk to my pediatrician about my dancing--why is being pregnant such a state of anxiety & fear? Certainly I had to adjust to a new center of gravity and I didn't have the stamina for hours & hours of crazy dancing but staying active is what keeps you healthy. With my second pregnancy I didn't manage to keep so active & I ended up with high blood pressure & on bed rest at the end (not to mention C-section delivery!).

I biked into my second trimester, but then it was winter in portland and the rain combined with the giant belly kept me from riding. I wish I'd kept it up though so I wouldn't have been so out of shape post-partum! I actually biked a bit at 40 weeks to try to get things going, and probably got some stares, but it did NOT induce labor (unfortunately!). If you're already in shape from cycling regularly I can't imagine it would be a problem, just be sure not to push yourself too hard. Also I'm not sure what it would be like on say a road bike as your belly gets bigger; I ride a dutch city bike which allows for a lot of room between my body and the handlebars.

I've been a bicycle commuter for the past seven years and I've had so many close calls with cars that I didn't want to risk it.I biked off road for awhile while I was prego but after almost taking a spill when I got bigger I stopped. I couldn't see harming my baby becuase I wasn't willing to take a break from cycling.

If biking doesn't work out, maybe you can bus or drive a bit closer to work and walk the rest of the way...

If you continued to cycle, what was your experience like?
I loved it! Both times!!

I biked until 8 months the first time. My commute then was straight up for one mile on the way home! Walking my bike when needed I still felt excited to exercise my own way, along with yoga with Nicole Sanson-Frey. I biked the whole pregnancy the second time, I get to stay at home so I wasn't biking as far, but still liked to peddle every day and again yoga with Nicole.

Did the shift in your center of gravity throw you off?
Some how it never did. I think the fact that i was biking the entire time as my body grew, my balance/center changed but no falls or wobbles.

Did your belly get in the way of your legs while pedaling?
The first time it didn't get in the way, had my handlebars adjusted to comfort and kept peddling.
The second time it did. My bike had changed to a bakfiets, great big belly did rub near the end, but still felt fine to ride my single bike.

Did you get weird stares?
Just lots of smiles and positive comments.

I wish you best of luck!

I totally support your your want/need to bike, but it was too risky once you get into your second trimester. As my OB put it, the belly doesn't have enough cushion to keep things safe if (unfortunately) you have a crash. Imo, it's only a few months and worth all the safety you can provide, Best of luck in everything!

I had planned to bike for as long as possible while pregnant. After an NP and an OB both told me to stop, I did. They both said it would be fine as long as I didn't fall. They said falling would put me at risk of dislodging my placenta. Not biking added 25-30 minutes to my commute which was already an hour. A healthy baby was worth every minute.

My OB told me I could ride as long as I wanted, but that eventually my belly might make it a bit uncomfortable. She was right. And, I couldn't move as quickly as I was used to so on two occasions I couldn't get my feet out of my clips fast enough and spilled (center of balance not being what it was!). After the second fall I stopped. I do wish I'd been able to keep it up, but I'm back at it now. Good luck!

I'm pg with #2 and have stopped cycling. I did so with #1 a well. It's not the cycling that's risky -- it's the danger of falling. As someone who's taken a few hard tumbles on my bike, I just can't justify the risk. With my last pregnancy, I took spinning classes weekly. It's a good way to get some miles in, and do so with minimal risk to the baby. Note that I don't believe you're supposed to elevate your HR and body temp too much, so try to practice some moderation (if you can't talk while doing it, back off a bit). Now perhaps this discussion will motivate me to head to a spinning class!

I biked during my pregnancy, on quiet residential streets at a leisurely pace. I think it depends on your biking style. You might not want to do Cycle Oregon, but I think a little gentle biking is great for you and the baby.

As for the risk of falling, I wonder how it compares to the risk of being in a car accident. I know several mothers who were in fender benders while pregnant, but most Americans wouldn't consider not riding in cars for the duration of pregnancy. (One Japanese pregnancy magazine I read recommended not driving during pregnancy!) My point is, I think sometimes we shun certain "risky" behaviors while continuing others--I'm for a more moderate approach to risk avoidance.

While I did not cycle on the street, I did continue with spin class up through week 39 of my pregnancy. I got a heart-rate monitor to make sure I wasn't going anaerobic, and towards the end i couldn't 'hit it' quite as hard as before, but i was still outpacing the newbies in the class at week 39.

I did end up repositioning my seat to accommodate the belly as it grew, but i also noticed that after about 10 minutes of class it would reposition itself out of the way a bit more.

I think the big risk w/any exercise is the potential for falls/accidents. Stationary biking is a lot smaller of a risk!

I biked until I was 7 months pregnant, and stopped when my belly got in the way! I was definitely quite cautious about watching my speed and going down not so busy streets. I walked my bike uphill several times, especially as the summer progressed. Luckily I never fell, but then again I never wore my bike shoes for fear of not being able to click out in time if I were in danger of falling!

That's me in the photo and I rode till I delivered. My midwives said as long as I am comfortable go for it. I did get a lot of questions and stares. I still feel that there is a greater risk of a car accident than a bike one so I felt safe.
My thoughts are that it is a personal choice. We are a fear based society. If one feels strongly about riding-do it. If you are too concerned about all the what ifs-don't. It'll make you less comfortable and less safe if you are harboring fears.
As for comfort, I eventually spread my legs and rested the belly on the top tube.
Good luck.

I biked through most of #1 and part of #2...the only hindrance i found (besides being in SF at the time where it is much more dangerous to bike!!) was my balance....as i got bigger i was less balanced and found myself having to think a bit more. But overall it was great exercise and my midwife always said as long as it felt good do it....

I was able to bike until about 32 weeks. I had to stop for medical reasons then. I would have loved to continue biking until delivery. The balance issue makes you think a couple more seconds each time before stopping. Drinking enough water was also more difficult. I chose bike paths and quiet residential streets and then didn't worry as much about cars coming out of nowhere and running into me. Good luck!

I didn't ride consistently through my pregnancy because of the rain. My last ride was a very enjoyable 20 mile loop from Portland to St. Johns at the end of my 5th month. I stopped riding because my position on the bike became very uncomfortable. I had a lot of people tell me not to ride because it was dangerous, but it's only dangerous if you crash. So I chose not to crash. I stopped driving before I stopped riding because your odds of getting in a car crash are a lot greater than getting in a bike crash.

Carla, it sounds like the odds of *you* getting into a car crash are great than being in a bike crash. Me? I have bit it numerous times on my bike, even though my last car crash was back in 1988! "Balance" and I are not good friends...

I rode my bike to my OB's office when my 1st son was 10 days post-due date...and ended up having an emergency c-section a couple of hours later! (NOT biking related! :) ) Needless to say, I felt completely comfortable on my bikes (commuter & mountain!) throughout my pregnancy. (Luckily, I didn't mind the feeling of my belly resting on my top tube!) If you're an experienced rider, I highly recommend it for both exercise and sanity. :)

Hi! I'm working on an article for Metro Parent Magazine about raising a green baby and would love to talk with some of you biking mamas. Feel free to contact me at 503-282-6314 or 503-957-1769, or laufe5268@comcast.net.
Thanks!
Anne Laufe
freelance writer

I'm 30 weeks pregnant and am doing leisurely nieghborhood rides. I take back roads at a slow pace and still pull a trailer with my older child. I have a women's bike and have lowered my seat slightly so that it is easy for me to put my feet down if needed. So far, I haven't felt I've put myself or child at any risk.

it's funny, i found biking past the first trimester *shocking* when i was in my first and second pregnancies. then my third pregnancy, i decided i wanted to bike, and my OB agreed that it was fine -- as long as i understood that biking is inherently dangerous because of the potential for accidents with cars (pregnant or no). funny, she never mentioned falling...

anyway, i did bike well into my pregnancy, but found it became highly uncomfortable about the same time i started having tailbone pain, about 6.5 months, and i stopped biking. i was also biking on a very small, hard saddle.

now that i have my mamabikeorama with its huge cushy saddle and low profile, i'm likely to bike far further into my next pregnancy (should i, indeed, have a fourth child, sometime in the distant future). i agree with camellia -- i'd rather bike than drive a car. in fact, i often don't even feel comfortable driving with the boys in car seats -- i'm afraid i'll crash! i feel far safer on my bike.

Hi there,

I just happened upon this very interesting discussion. I know it's been over for ages but thought I'd contribute, in case any ladies out there are searching for information on bicycling while pregnant. I'm due in a week and have been biking through my entire pregnancy. I did about 25 miles a week (5 miles a day, 5 days a week, plus some recreational weekend riding) for the first three months, after which my husband and I bought a house further from my workplace. Since the fourth month, I've averaged 60 miles a week (12 miles a day, 5 days a week, plus some recreational weekend riding). I don't bike in the rain and was briefly out of commission last week because of a major snowstorm, but got back on the bike yesterday. At this point in my pregnancy (39 weeks), the bike is pretty much the only place I feel comfortable, and the doctors and midwives assure me that, as long as I feel comfortable and my balance isn't affected, biking is a safe and healthy activity. I've had an easier pregnancy than anyone I know -- no swelling, no water retention, no mood swings, minimal weight gain (despite holiday-season indulgences). I'm not an athlete by any means -- I'm a plump, lazy person who prefers eating to exercising -- but biking makes me feel good so I keep doing it. I can barely walk a block since the baby descended last week, and climbing a flight of stairs results in really shocking cervical pain, but put me on a bike and I could go forever.

Hello,

I stumbled across this discussion today, as at 27 weeks pregnant I'm being hounded by my colleagues to stop riding my bike into work. I feel completely confident riding, both balance and safety wise and have moderated my pace and effort as my belly has grown. I appreciate the concern my colleagues are showing, however they don't seem to realise that I could be at more risk of having an accident by getting into a car. Whilst riding, I know you can't control the drivers around you, but you can minimise risk! My colleagues are starting to make me doubt my own confidence riding! The commute is 6kms one way (I reside in Melbourne, Australia) and whilst it is on main arterials there are bike lanes marked the whole way and there are plenty of other cyclists on the same route.

Anyhow, just thought I'd rant. Hope all the pregnant, bicycle-riding ladies out there are enjoying their time on two wheels!

Hi, I am only 9 weeks pregnant and was really pleased to find other mums-to-be who have cycled through their pregnancies. I cycle to and from work every day (12 miles) and have been hoping that I could keep it up throughout my pregnancy. Reading your stories I realised that as long as I keep my wits about be and are comfortable I hope to be cycling for a while yet! I really enjoy it and dread having to catch the tube (I live in London).

Hey there, Jean again. Just wanted to say that I delivered a robust, healthy little girl on January 2. I biked right up to a few days before giving birth, and only stopped because we had a series of violent snowstorms. I don't know if it was due to the biking, but I had a very short labor and an easy recovery. We've put a photo into the "baby book" of me on the bike at 9 months, with an estimated tally of the miles I clocked while pregnant -- about 1,030.

One funny thing I noticed: I'd read in some book that one should talk to the baby while pregnant, but I found myself at a loss for words and instead made up a little song to sing while pedaling. The first time I sang it to her "on the outside," the baby recognized it and became very excited. Whenever she becomes overwrought, I can always calm her with that particular song -- I think she must associate it with being rocked in the womb while I pedaled.

I'm now back at work. The morning bike commute helps me deal with the sadness of leaving my baby for the day (and wakes me up after the 3 am and 6 am feedings), and the afternoon commute helps me unwind and get the energy to start my second shift with the baby and housework and such. I can't join a gym yet, because that would mean even less time with the baby, so I'm also fervently hoping that biking will allow me to fit into something resembling normal clothing by summer.

Good luck to all you other biking moms!

Last week, at 16 weeks, my OB said that I should consider stopping biking. He said that now that the uterus is no longer protected by the pelvic bone, it could be a very desctructive result if I were involved in a fall.

When I thought about it, I think about how many times I had fallen. I had one major fall when I was a teenager riding my dad's road bike (frame a bit too big for me) and caught my tires in tracks. We ride reguarly now, about half the time for transportation.

In the past 5 years, commuting with kids to/fro school, work, store, errands, we have not fallen. I have decided to continue commuting by bike so long as I feel comfortable on the bike and I take my normal precautions. I ride with my kids, so I feel like we are always taking the "safe" route.

My doc said he didn't want to be the prgenancy police. We had to make our own decisions. He said we could have a pretty destructive accident in a car or as a pedestrian.

I just read the bikeportland.org piece on riding while pregnant and really appreciated the insight:
http://bikeportland.org/2009/02/03/biking-with-a-bump-should-you-ride-while-pregnant/

I biked to work every day until week 35 of my pregnancy, it was mid-November and the dark rides coupled with cold rain made me stop. I think it is important to make sure that you are comfortable with being on the bike and that you are not over-exerting yourself. Taking the safest route possible, even if it adds to the commute time, is a good idea, too.
After 5 months of not riding, I just jumped back on the ol' bike for the first time this week to head back to work and realized that I was in better shape at 8 months pregnant! Have fun and be safe!

I biked every day up to the day I gave birth, which was one week past my due date. I biked to work and back and did my grocery shopping on the bike. I have a dutch bike, which meant I was riding in an upright position and not putting any pressure on my belly. I found biking to be EASIER than walking after 7 months. Whenever I walked long distances, I felt like the baby was bearing down on my pelvis. I took the max train up steep hills, primarily because I only had 3 gears. Cars and other bike riders were very gracious when they saw my belly. That said, I don't think biking while pregnant is good for everyone. You probably shouldn't bike if you feel at all unbalanced on the bike. I would go so far as to say that if you didn't ride your bike regularly before the pregnancy, now is not the time to get back into biking. If you do decide to bike, there should be plenty of room between your belly and the handlebars or any solid object. If you have to stop fast or do bump into something, you don't want your belly to hit anything. Obviously, be extra cautious and wear a helmet. I did not ride in inclement weather or on wet/slick roads; keep the bike in the garage on rainy days. It's a great way to keep in shape and helped keep my spirits up when I went through any physically uncomfortable stages of the pregnancy.

My #1 tip for riding while pregnant - get a step-through (women's style) bike if you don't already have one! I had to stop biking at around 7 months with my first pregnancy because I couldn't get onto & off the bike anymore, but when that bike was stolen I replaced it with a step-through and rode up to a day before the (week late) birth of my second. Usually while pulling a trailer with my first child in it. I never had any trouble, but I'm used to riding regularly (I don't have a car) and I always ride slowly, on safe streets, even when I'm not pregnant.

I'm 35 weeks pregnant and just got home from a 7 mile ride. Not too far, but I still feel completely balanced on a bike. I plan to bike up to delivery. I ride a men's style touring bike with drop bars, but it's small (I'm 5'4). My OB told me that most women stop after 16 weeks due to balance issues. My doula, however, has encouraged me to keep riding and I'm so glad she did! Balance isn't an issue at all. Cycling takes the pressure of my upper back that I experience while sitting or walking. I love it.

I biked short distances until 7 months. The only time I was wobbly was while dismounting, but never mounting. Maybe because at the end of a ride you're more on auto pilot and not actively compensating for the extra weight.

Also, around this time, my knees started to hit my belly- a more upright bike would have helped in this department.

At the seven month point, I was getting too winded during all activities to cycle at more than a snail's pace!

Kudos to the mamas who continued to bike throughout their pregnancies! I biked until nearly my third trimester and then it got too painful. Balance wasn't that big of an issue, just the lower back. I also found that I had a tough time breathing, and was easily winded. In the end, I delivered a healthy baby and I do think I bounced back quicker partly to staying active throughout the pregnancy. I am looking forward to biking again as I do miss my work commute on two wheels; and waiting for the babe to get older so he can be biked around as well.

I am nearly 8 months pregnant and I still bike - in heels! Here's photographic evidence:

http://corporatewellnessprogram.recesswellness.com/

Biking is my sole mode of transportation and an easy way for me to stay healthy and sane. Also I am mourning the fact that I can't attend Health Immersion this year (http://recessfitness.com/bootcamp)and so I console myself with the thought that my biking will keep me in good enough cardiovascular shape and I can always join my buddies again next summer.

I am at 34 weeks and still bike every single day. Sometimes in heels! See here:

http://corporatewellnessprogram.recesswellness.com/

I see biking as my sanity and lifelife. Normally I attend Health Immersion every summer ( http://recessfitness.com/bootcamp ) which is the way I stay really fit every year without feeling like it - feels more like hanging out with a bunch of friends.

I just don't trust my loosey goosey joints this year and I never really seem to make it to a pool so biking is my best bet for a low impact, fun way to keep me and baby healthy. Cheers to biking!

I am currently 28 weeks pg and am biking regularly -- with my 2 children in carriers (one front, one back). (I have a step-thru bike.) It seems to be great exercise, as long as I am careful and pay attention to my limits. As my tummy grows, it is an adjustment getting used to the balance changes & getting on & off --especially with the carriers. At some point, I may need to switch to using the trailer.

In the past I had trouble with a very painful pubic symphasis separation, and have noticed a decrease in the pain as I've increased the frequency of riding -- which really surprised me.

After riding the Hiawatha Trail this last weekend (which was a lot bumpier than my normal riding), it occurred to me I haven't discussed riding with my midwife, or anybody for that matter, and found this page doing a google search on the subject. It is encouraging to hear all your input!

I know this is an old thread but I thought I'd comment. I'm in my 33rd week, and I'm still biking pretty much everywhere I go. I have been open to discontinuing biking if it gets uncomfortable or if I feel that my balance has changed, but so far that's not the case. We are lucky in Portland to have so many low-traffic streets and great bike facilities to choose from so my exposure to cars is quite low, and I can bike as slowly as I like.

For me, because I have very intense back problems, walking is very painful (and bus requires a fair amount of walking), but bicycling is miraculously pain-free, and keeps me active. We don't have a car so if I'm not on the bike I'm on the bus. We'll see what happens from here on out but it's felt great up until now. I feel so lucky to live here, though, and not in another city!!

hello! i just found out i am pregnant :-) very early days but i am two weeks from riding the bike part of a team triathlon! i'm pretty fit (work out 3-4 times a week and do pilates once or twice) but haven't done a road race like this for a while. the last 3-4 weeks i've been stepping up my intensity, riding 15-20 miles at a time. i feel great, absolutely loving it...but now don't know what to do! anyone had a similar situation or am i just crazy? obviously don't want to risk the health of my babe...

I'm 38 weeks now and still cycling. Not as fast as before and very traffic cautious, but I'm still loving the easiness and the mobility of my daily commute. Anywhere from 2 to 10 miles a day. Plus, it does absolute wonders for any hip stiffness or backache I occasionally get!

It's a habit that you can indulge in even when pregnant, and a healthy practice at that. Be careful of humps and other obstacles though.

I am 24 weeks and still commuting 8 miles every day. I recently purchased an upright bike (my belly was beginning to get in the way on my road bike) and plan to continue to bike until it no longer feels good. I am hoping that means up until the day I go into labor:)

I AM 34 WEEKS PREGNANT AND FELL FORWORD OFF MY BIKE AND VERY HARD LANDED ON MY FEET THE PRESSURE OF FALLING FORWARD WAS VERY PAINFULL AND MY BABY HAS NOT STOPPED MOVING FOR ABOUT AN HOUR AND A HALF . I LIVE QUITE FAR FROM THE LOCAL HOSPITAL AND WAS WANTING TO NOW IF ANYONE HAS HAD SIMILAR EXPERIENCES ...?

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment