What we'll do about our cycling during pregnancy should we ever decide to have children is something a lot of female cyclists worry about. Or rather, what we'll do about our pregnancy to allow us to cycle for as long as possible, if not full term, is more often the concern.
What you do is a personal decision - pregnancy affects people differently - but we've had the pleasure of talking to a host of women who have kept riding through pregnancy and are able to give us advice from their experience.
Joyce Brereton is the founder of 'As Bold As' - who make modern day cycling clothing for urban riding. A lover of 'design, engineering and endorphins' in equal measure, she's also expecting her second child in around two months time.
Still cycling seven months into her pregnancy, here she shares with us five things she's learnt about her body along the way...
Words: Joyce Brereton
My cycling life pre-pregnancy: commuter cycling every day, spin classes, triathlon and the odd long distance cycle. So the thought of resting for 9 months was never going to happen – I’d be a bear! I need the release and cleanse of fresh air and exercise: it’s my balancing tool and secret sauce.
With that in mind, I decided to continue to cycle throughout my two pregnancies. At the moment I’m expecting my second and I’m seven months in. So here are some things I’ve learned about my body.
The hips don’t lie
Every woman has a different experience of pregnancy but the most common niggles are in the hips and back. If you think about it, you’re carrying an additional 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy focussed around your middle and your back and hips have to support this 24 hours a day.
Cycling works the quads, glutes and hamstrings so it’s important to stretch and strengthen these areas. I use a foam roller and my trustee tennis ball to roll out knots. I do a dizzying amount of hip circles like a little hula girl to keep me nimble. To strengthen my glutes and keep them active I do the clam and some gentle squats (not too deep).
Rest is important
I had much more energy on my first pregnancy. I was a woman on a mission! With my second pregnancy I’ve been feeling sluggish, struggling with constant nausea. I love to push myself but this time round I’ve had to listen to my body and take my foot slightly off the pedal – very reluctantly! I obviously just need more rest.
I have had to force myself to follow this advice from Fine Fit Day:
adjust your gear,
adjust your attitude,
adjust to conditions,
week by week and
trimester by trimester"
Happy mummy happy baby
I’ve had some mixed reactions to my decision to cycle. Some people are nervous for me, others genuinely think it’s irresponsible. My theory is that I’m generating those delicious endorphins as I cycle in my happy place, and the baby growing inside me must be getting a kick out of those too. Also, staying fit can only pay dividends during labour and post pregnancy looking after your new addition – there’s lots of lifting, rocking and general grind. This requires back strength, hip strength and mental strength!
This pregnancy has been a little bit tricky for me. Two words which make my stomach flip: nausea and indigestion. I’ve tried and tested various food group eliminations to minimise the ‘ick’ feeling. First was dairy, that didn’t work. Second was raw foods as they are hard to digest, that didn’t work either. Now I’m onto wheat free and it actually seems to be working. Hurray!
Cycling definitely helps digestion and takes my mind off that sea sick feeling.
Change your bike to match your changing body
The three main tweaks I’ve made:
- Shine bright! I’m brighter than ever: lights and high vis, I’m like a pregnant Leicester Square. Safety is high on my agenda.
- Raise your handlebars so there’s extra room for growing bump and so you’re cycling in more of an upright position (better for your back).
- I no longer carry my laptop in my lovely messenger bag. It’s panniers all the way so there’s no added stress on your back.
So what has my body has taught me? It’s a clever system which sends you signals and you have to respect them. If you have the energy, go forth and endorphinise. As you’re growing, strengthen, stretch and try and stay dynamic. If you’re exhausted – for the love of humanity, breathe, exhale and lie down!
Want to see what else Joyce gets up to? Check out 'As Bold As' stylish urban cycling clothing here.
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