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Mums' Corner

Cycling while pregnant: Everything you need to know

Cycling while pregnant is a safe way to exercise and backed by the NHS. First or second trimester? Twins? Get tips and advice here.

Cycling while pregnant? Or pregnant and want to cycle? Confused by all of the tips and advice out there, then look no further!

It’s a fact that exercising while you’re pregnant keeps you fit and prepared for childbirth. If you want to exercise on your bicycle while pregnant, do it. We don’t want to get into the controversy around being a pregnant cyclist, we want to focus on supporting you if you wish to do so.

One of the first things active women do when they find out they’re pregnant is look for information on exercise during pregnancy. Running, cycling, swimming, whatever their chosen sport, they want to know if it’s safe to keep doing it. The NHS recommend exercising while pregnant but to be careful you don’t risk a fall.

Reader’s Story: Cycling While Pregnant

Unfortunately, as Susie Mitchell discussed last week, the information on cycling while pregnant is jumbled at best. There’s no definitive answer.

Although there’s no concrete proof that high-intensity exercise harms your baby, cutting down the intensity of your training makes sense. Your body is already working extremely hard creating and growing your baby. Throwing a high-intensity workout on top of that is a shortcut to exhaustion but that doesn’t mean you can’t ride a bicycle while pregnant.

If you have chosen to continue cycling through your pregnancy, there are a few things you will need to be aware of. We’ve prepared a quick round-up of how pregnancy and your changing body will affect your cycling, and how you can take the best possible care of yourself throughout.

Cycling while pregnant tips

1. Talk to your doctor at your first appointment, letting them know exactly how much cycling you’re doing now and how much you’d like to continue to do through your pregnancy. If there is any medical reason for you to stop exercising, take heed. It’s only nine months, after all.

2. Listen to your body. You are growing an entire human being inside of you – that’s seriously hard work. If your body’s saying it’s time to slow down or stop, listen to it.

3. During the first trimester all the hard work is going on inside of your body as you create the placenta, and this is exceptionally tiring for your body. Be aware you will be far more tired than usual and plan accordingly. Try and avoid long, arduous journeys or bicycle training sessions in the evenings – chances are you’ll feel more energetic in the morning. You can carry on cycling in the second trimester and third trimester but get advice from your Doctor and keep safe.

4. You’ve probably heard that exercise can help with morning sickness. I’m sure it can in some cases, but in my case I had to step off the gas for the first 12 weeks as getting out of breath made me gag. Regardless of what ‘the books say’, what friends swear by and even what doctors advise, if it’s making you feel worse, not better, then it’s time to slow down.

5. As your bump grows in the second trimester, you may find it more comfortable to raise the handlebars on your bicycle so you are sitting in a more upright position.

6. In some cases your balance can be affected by your growing bump. I have to say I’ve not noticed this in one-and-a-half very impressively sized pregnancies, but we are all different. If your balance starts to go a bit ‘off’ then stay off the bike. A tumble won’t do you or your unborn baby any good.

7. It’s normal and healthy to gain weight during your pregnancy, but the extra load might make you a bit saddle-sore. Check out our guide to the best womens cycling shorts and invest in a bit of extra padding whilst you’re carrying the extra weight.

8. As your uterus grows to accommodate your growing baby, your internal organs will become a lot more cramped – there’s only so much room in there! You may find the compression leaves you short of breath – this doesn’t mean you can’t cycle while pregnant at all, but the golden rule remains, listen to your body.

9. Common side effects of pregnancy and your changing body include backache, rib and side pain, and hip pain. If you are suffering from any of these and it’s uncomfortable on the bike, give the cycling a rest. Pregnancy yoga or Pilates may help with aches and pains or try pregnancy massage.

10. If it’s getting too much like hard work and you’re not enjoying it, then stop. You don’t have to soldier on if you’re struggling and just because your friend cycled herself to hospital to give birth, doesn’t mean your body ‘should be able to cope’ with cycling. Every pregnancy is different.

Bonus Tip: You can buy maternity clothing to help you cycle while pregnant. Lots of brands produce cycling clothing for pregnant women, including jerseys, shorts, bibs and more.

Follow Cathy on Twitter and check out her new book.

You can read more about working out while pregnant here.

Liked this cycling while pregnant guide? Why not also read:

10 Fantastic Family Friendly Cycling Events

Mums’ Corner: Is it ‘wimping out’ to stop cycling during pregnancy?

Mums’ Corner: Pregnancy to Podium, Part 1

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