Cycling while pregnant is a very personal decision you can make. We didn’t find any medical suggestions that explicitly states not to ride bikes during pregnancy.
Many pregnant women have ridden bicycles throughout their pregnancies. Nonetheless, common sense should take the front seat.
According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, pregnant women shouldn’t give up cycling. But they should stay from certain activities such as downhill skiing, mountain biking, horseback riding, and other risky activities.
It is always safe to ride a stationary bike indoors that cycling outside as keeping balance can become an issue especially during the later stages of pregnancy.
According to Dr. Chee Jing Jye, specialist in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Mount Elizabeth, there are dangers that pregnant cyclists should be aware of.
Says Dr Chee: “Like any other activities undertaken during pregnancy, one important rule to abide by is “Do Not Fall and Hurt Yourself!”. There’s always a small risk of losing balance and falling off the bike while cycling. In addition, there’s also the risk of being knocked into by other cyclists or, worse, cars on the roads. Not specific to cycling, but any injuries that result in a significant impact on the growing bump can cause abruptio placenta (the placenta to be dislodged). This can be fatal to the fetus.
Dr. Chee’s advice to pregnant women who would still want to cycle during pregnancy:
#1 Listen to your body!!!
Pregnancy is taxing to the body. Even without exercising, it is normal for pregnant women to feel fatigue in early pregnancy, giddy in the second trimester and breathless towards the end of the pregnancy. On days when you feel energetic and good, go ahead and exercise. However, if you are feeling tired or unwell, do not push yourself.
Especially in the later part of the pregnancy, many women will find themselves not able to cycle as fast or as long as compared to prior to pregnancy. This is normal. Give yourself some slack; just enjoy the activity at a pace that you are comfortable with.
#2 Must modify the way you cycle as the pregnancy progresses.
For example, as the baby grows bigger, you may find raising the handlebars of the cycle will make cycling more comfortable as it would allow more room for the bump.
In the same token, as the pregnancy progresses, the weight will increase. Hence the saddle-sore may be more pronounced; do consider wearing shorts with extra padding to cushion the increased weight.
#3 Beware of shifting centre of gravity as the pregnancy progresses.
If you find it difficult to maintain balance in the advanced stages of pregnancy, it may be time for you to stop cycling. Hormones released during pregnancy makes our ligaments and joints more lax, hence more prone to sprains and other injuries.
If a pregnant woman were to try to hard to compensate for her shift in centre of gravity, especially when she is cycling at the same time, she may easily pull a muscle, sprain a joint or, even worse, fall off the bike.
Which trimester is safest to cycle?
Usually, a pregnant woman will feel her best in the second trimester. That’s when the symptoms of early pregnancy like nausea, vomiting, and fatigue would have resolved and the bump is not big enough to be obstructive. In fact, many women will feel very energetic is the second trimester.
In addition, the second trimester is usually the time when the pregnancy is deemed to have stabilised.
Dr. Choo Wan Ling, gynaecologist at Singapore O&G, agrees that the second trimester is the perfect time to cycle as the first trimester is the time they’ll feel most tired and the belly would start to get in the way on the third trimester.
If you’ve decided to keep on cycling while pregnant, here are six tips on how you can be safe. But, remember, every woman’s needs are different, so is every pregnancy. So, consult your doctor before doing anything.
Moderation is the key
Regardless of what kind of exercise you do (cycling, aerobics, cardio), and how much you do, you’re your efforts moderate.
Always keep doing what you were habituated of doing before you were pregnant. Stay in your comfort zone and don’t push yourself hard. You should not be breaking any world records at this stage.
Pace yourself trimester by trimester
As we said earlier, each pregnancy is different. If you’re expecting, you’ll realize you feel different all through your pregnancy.
Generally, during the 1st trimester, your body is inundated with hormones, making your body ready for the pregnancy as well as creating the placenta. During this stage, you’ll most likely have morning sickness and feel tired.
You’ll feel better and get your strength and vitality back once you enter the 2nd trimester. This is the time you’ll be at your best cycling while pregnant. It’s also at this stage, your belly will be bigger and your center of gravity shifts. So, pay attention how you feel.
Some women have reported that they felt more stable cycling in their 3rd trimesters. But, that doesn’t mean that will work out for you. Do what is good for you.
Give more time to yourself
We don’t need to tell you this—as your pregnancy progresses, you’ll be getting slower as your belly get larger. You’ll also find taking deep breaths difficult as there’s little room for lungs to expand as your baby grows inside you.
Balancing yourself in your bike may also be a little tricky given that you belly feels bigger and heavier. So, if you’re cycling while pregnant, give yourself more time covering your laps.
Adjust your bike
As your baby bump keeps on growing, you might need to replace your saddle with a wider one, so you can be comfortable cycling while pregnant.
You also need to raise your handle so you can ride your bike in a more upright position. You also need to change your clothes. A nice pair of large bib shorts or tights will do the job just fine.
Pack plenty of food and fluids
When you’re pregnant, you’re actually eating for two people. Always take extra food with you and stay hydrated if you’re cycling while pregnant.
Your body needs more water to perform all the essential bodily functions properly and more so during pregnancy.
Try something else other than cycling
If cycling while pregnant is tiring you both physically or mentally—quit. Instead, try a spin bike or hop on a stationary trainer. You can also dance, swim, or go hiking. Again, do what suits you best.
Author: Mizah Salik
Writer | Editor | Storyteller | Data geek | Aspiring Photographer
When she’s not writing, Mizah is constantly wired 24/7. She loves cats, cycling at night, and can’t survive without her weekly dose of chicken rice.