Cycling during pregnancy? While it’s quite common in Northern Europe to cycle while pregnant, in the UK cyclists with a baby bump can be met with a wide range of reactions. “When pregnant with my first baby, nobody in the Netherlands questioned me cycling" commented Merlijn Janssens on the Cycling UK Facebook Page. “Here, everybody looks at you like you are committing a deadly sin”
Is it just a clash of cultures? Is it advisable to cycle while expecting a baby? According to the National Health Service (UK), if you're active and fit during pregnancy, you will find it easier to adapt to your changing shape and weight gain. Exercising is not dangerous for your baby - indeed active women are less likely to experience problems in later pregnancy. Being fit will also help you to cope with labour better.
But how about about cycling specifically?
The NHS does warn that since cycling comes with an (albeit small) risk of falling, women should do it with ‘caution'. However, many common complaints of pregnancy, including fatigue, swelling, varicose veins, can be reduced through mild exercise.
Here are some things to consider if you are pregnant and want to keep on cycling, to help you decide whether it's right for you:
- When you have your first doctor’s appointment, make sure you let your doctor know about your plans to cycle, and ask their advice on it.
- Try not to push yourself as hard as you would have done previously, as your body might react slightly differently to exercise. The first trimester can be very tiring as your body is already working hard on creating the placenta. In the second trimester the draining tiredness usually goes away and you get a good spurt of energy back.
- Some women say that exercise helped their morning sickness - and getting a good dose of fresh air can certainly help reduce this. And commuting by train or bus could exacerbate it - another thing to consider!
- Make sure you keep check your bike is in a fully working condition before cycling and that you are wearing clothing that will let you move comfortably while you have baby bump.
- Make sure you have a raincoat and avoid sitting on slippy, wet bicycles.
- Avoid getting dehydrated: Always take some water with you. When you are pregnant your body will need even more water than usual.
- Doing exercise can help you keep in shape. Although it’s normal to gain weight during your pregnancy, too many extra pounds are not helpful for your joints and your body.
All in all, just make sure you do as much exercise as you enjoy while pregnant. If you’re an experienced cyclist you should be able to continue cycling, but do monitor how you feel as the pregnancy progresses. And stay safe!
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