Cycling in pregnancy – is it safe?

Can you ride your bicycle when you’re pregnant?

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Should you give up your bike for your baby?  There are loads of health benefits to peddling, though you might be worried that cycling’s not a safe exercise for you and your baby.  Medically, opinion is divided. There are plenty of health benefits to keep you in the saddle but also warnings and cautions that will affect your decision.

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Don’t start cycling now

You may never forget how to ride a bike but if it’s been a while since you last got in the saddle, pregnancy is not the best time to get back into the sport. If you’re unused to cycling, the changes in your weight distribution and balance make you more likely to take a tumble. As your baby loses the protection of your pelvis after 12 weeks, any activity where there is a significant risk of falling should be avoided.

In the “no” camp

Antenatal fitness expert, Jane Wake explains why she doesn’t recommend cycling in pregnancy.

“How safe are you when you cycle? It’s not the fact that you’re not being careful, it’s the fact that you are in an environment that you can’t control.

“It’s the same for women who want to horse ride, or ski. They may be excellent sportswomen but they cannot account for the uncontrolled skier who’s going to wipe them out or the horse that’s going to bolt.

“If you cannot be sure that a car isn’t going to cut you up or another cyclists isn’t going to run into you or the road isn’t going to be wet and slippery, then you should not cycle.”

Pro-pregnancy cycling

If you’re already a cyclist, many doctors are happy for you to continue the sport if you feel comfortable on your bike as it’s it’s an excellent way to keep fit and active during pregnancy and up your stamina for labour.

Mari Lynch explains on the Cycle Chic blog: “I attribute my easy labor with my first to bicycling throughout pregnancy. Biking in the ninth month of pregnancy was such a lighter, freer way to keep my body moving.”

Keeping active during pregnancy and undertaking a program of exercise suited to mums-to-be helps you prepare for labour and keeps both you and your baby healthy during the pregnancy.

Cycling works muscle groups in your legs, abdomen and back which can help ward off back pain.

Fitness expert Amanda Hargreaves is 100% behind cycling: “It’s great for toning your legs and increasing your stamina. You may want to stop later in pregnancy as your bump gets in the way, though.”

Cycling in pregnancy dos and don’ts

  • If you do decide to stay in the saddle, make sure you have as much control as possible
  • Get your bike serviced. The last thing you need is brakes ceasing up, bad suspension and pregnancy is the perfect excuse to get everything tightened and in perfect working order….or buy a new bike!
  • Raise the handlebars a little so you don’t have to lean over too much
  • Avoid bad weather cycling when roads are slippy
  • Don’t go off-roading and if you’re cycling in a big city you’ll need to be extra alert and stick to cycle paths
  • You may need to change your bike for a low mount so you don’t have to swing your legs too high to get on and off

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