Would you ride a bicycle?
April 18, 2008 12:32 PM   Subscribe

I live in a bicycle friendly city which inspired me to get a new bicycle. I really want to ride it instead of using our car. Sounds simple, right?

I also just found out that I'm pregnant (a big YEAH). So, are there any things I should know about (beyond, wear a helmet, use a bike light, wear the proper clothing)? My bicycle is a Schwinn Speedster (I think) so I don't have to slouch over when riding. Is it silly that I'm even worried about riding a bike while pregnant? Thank you for your sage advice.
posted by MeeMaMN to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would ask your pregnancy doctor as to the risks of the idea.

As far as Bikes go, you can get those with low U frames so you don't have to swing your leg that high to get on the bike, which might help.
posted by emptyinside at 12:35 PM on April 18, 2008

I know plenty of women who have remained avid cyclists well into their third trimester, but that's just anecdotal (if you like anecdote, though, figure that billions of women all over the world regularly ride bicycles while pregnant). And without knowing how in-shape you are, and how experienced a cyclist you are, and whether yours is a normal pregnancy, your question is hard to answer conclusively.

Do you have a doctor? Because this would be a good thing to ask them about.
posted by box at 12:37 PM on April 18, 2008

I don't think there are any greater risks with bike riding while pregnant than with other forms of physical activity, but with all things, talk to your doctor. It's always good for the doc to know what kinds of things you're doing. Enjoy riding!
posted by iguanapolitico at 12:53 PM on April 18, 2008

Ooof, I wouldn't, the potential harm from a fall is too great. (But I'm a guy, so maybe this is some sort of sexist expression of my own internal biases, but I'm also the father of a 2 1/2 year old girl, with a second girl on the way in about a month, so maybe I'm just really fond of the babies).

Wait 9, 10 months or so, then start biking nice easy rides with a trailer full of happy healthy baby.
posted by Reverend John at 12:56 PM on April 18, 2008

The most difficult thing is that your body shape, size and center of gravity are changing so quickly that it's hard to get used to. And the further along you get, the faster it seems to change and the faster even simple things like using stairs seem to get. Toward the end my body sense lagged by about two months. Anyway, you've got a few months unless you get really big, really fast, so go for it. It's easy on the joints and barring any weird injuries or medical history, exercise in moderation is fine. Frankly, exhaustion will probably be the biggest problem early on. (Some restrictions may apply. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information. The use of helmets is advised. Blah, blah, blah.)
posted by cocoagirl at 12:57 PM on April 18, 2008

Response by poster: Thank you everyone. I appreciate all points of view and levels of experience with this.

I will definitely be talking to my doctor (about physical activities throughout the pregnancy). I am on the higher end of average physical condition. Although, I won't be posing for any health magazine covers (that would be hilarious) in the near future.

Reverend John, "a trailer full of happy healthy baby" is exactly what I'm thinking of! The rest of your comment made me laugh.

Box, you give me hope.
posted by MeeMaMN at 1:49 PM on April 18, 2008

This is intended for more serious cyclists, but there's some good info: http://www.velonews.com/article/3767

What I've heard is that you shouldn't start exercising more after you get pregnant than you were before you got pregnant. On the bike, it's important to stay hydrated and not overheat. IANAD, but I can't see what the problem would be with commuting around town.

I'm a bike racer and know many women who were riding bikes outside into their third trimesters and indoor on the trainer once that became too difficult.
posted by mingshan at 1:49 PM on April 18, 2008

I rode my bike all the way through my first pregnancy, and then again pulling a little kid in a trailer through my second pregnancy. I wore my helmet, stayed out of a lot of traffic, carried water with me, and rested when I needed to.

I'm fine, both kids are fine, and labors and deliveries were relatively easy.

Do it.
posted by saffronwoman at 2:03 PM on April 18, 2008

Hey! Former preggo bike rider here. Now a bike rider with a totally awesome and amazing one-year-old whose head is not the shape of a bicycle seat.

Yes, please, talk to your provider and keep reminding him/her at each appointment that you ride your bike. This way, anything counterindicated that comes along can be addressed instantly. For example, my provider doesn't let her preggos with things like placenta previa ride, or if the preggo has been placed on "pelvic rest" for some reason. Apparently, some providers nix riding completely, but my understanding and my experience is that as long as you do not challenge your fitness level, have your bike adjusted as your body changes, keep your bike maintained properly (no riding on low tires, etc.), and follow ALL safety precautions, it's as safe as all road-based activity, including driving (one of the biggest safety risks that pregnant women routinely take).

My experience was that I was golden during my first and second trimesters. I was very good (see precautions above), had a normal pregnancy, and completely avoided even the tiny risks that I wouldn't think anything of when not pregnant (I tended to ride during low-traffic parts of the day, took less-traveled routes, never pushed it with an even slightly iffy situation with a driver or strange road surface). I was never that comfortable on anything longer that a normal errand because the funky muscles seemed to get tired faster, and it freaked out my partner a bit, but otherwise, it was great for warming up my system and I think it helped with some of the annoying symptoms of that time.

I did pretty much stop during the third trimester. I didn't trust my balance totally just walking, so I didn't want to challenge it further. Plus, your hips and pelvis REALLY come unhinged during that time and it just felt really wrong to get on the bike. My provider did tell me that riding was not the best activity to promote the baby getting into the right position for labor, while walking was, so I started doing a lot of walking--though, like I said, I didn't really feel like riding anyway.

Pregnancy is a time to listen to your body, for real. This goes double if you add physical activity into the mix. Go to all your prenatal appointments, be honest with your provider about what you're doing and not doing, and don't otherwise lie, push it, or be a hero. Then, you too can have the pleasure of old ladies stopping you in the street while you're on your bike so that they can tell you that you are squashing the baby's head!

I know this long, but a couple more things: don't panic if you fall, there's a lot cushioning that baby (but do go in right away to get checked out) and leave your pride behind. If you bike someplace and feel too tired to bike back, lock up your steed and call for a ride (and DO bring that cell phone, always!)

Many congratulations! I wish I could prepare you for the ride you'll experience AFTER you have that baby!
posted by rumposinc at 2:21 PM on April 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

By all means, ask your doctor, midwife, or other healthcare practitioner* if you want a professional opinion, by all means ask, but go armed with the knowledge that "Studies carried out by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (ACOG) suggest that healthy women with uncomplicated pregnancies do not need to limit their exercise for fear of adverse effects."

*'Cause not all pregnant women use doctors as their primary care providers during pregnancy.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:21 PM on April 18, 2008

Obviously, check with your doctor or midwife, but (and this may be extreme and it is running), Paula Radcliffe (the holder of the women's marathon world record) ran well into her third trimester. Granted, she's practically superhuman, but the body needs fresh air and exercise and assuming you can maintain your balance and you aren't too tired, have fun fun fun!
posted by cachondeo45 at 2:27 PM on April 18, 2008

Congratulations!! And good for you being active and smart about it!

On a slight tangent, you can't take baby out in a trailer right away. Kids in trailers need to be wearing a helmet, and need to be strong enough to sit up with the helmet on. It's generally not safe to tow a kid until she's at least one.
posted by Capri at 1:09 AM on April 19, 2008

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