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Cycling and Pregnancy: Is Riding a Bike Safe While Pregnant?

Are you pregnant and looking to stay active? Cycling is a great option! But be aware of risks! Read on to find out if cycling during pregnancy is safe.

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When you are pregnant, your safety comes first. That is why it is critical to understand whether or not you can ride a bicycle while pregnant. So, is it safe to ride a bike when pregnant?

Pregnant women can ride their bikes! In fact, cycling is an excellent method to exercise and keep fit while pregnant. Cycling is a great way to meet the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommendation of at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity daily exercise. Cycling is also a low-impact sport.

Image of man with hat kissing pregnant woman s belly. Source: pexels
Image of man with hat kissing pregnant woman s belly. Source: Pexels

In this article, you will learn whether it is safe to cycle during pregnancy, the benefits of cycling while pregnant, and how to know if you can ride a bike during pregnancy so that you can ride confidently.

Editor’s note: This article was updated on June 30, 2022, to include additional information about cycling and pregnancy. I am not a doctor. Please speak to your doctor for professional medical advice.

Before learning about cycling and pregnancy. Let’s find out if cycling during pregnancy is safe.

Is it safe to cycle during pregnancy?

There is good evidence to suggest that regular exercise in pregnancy—more than 30 minutes most days—lowers the risk of gestational diabetes and excessive weight gain, both of which are associated with large-for-gestational-age infants, birth trauma, neonatal hypoglycemia, and other perinatal complications. So, generally, exercise during pregnancy is linked to better long-term health for both mother and baby.

Exercise is not harmful to your baby; there is evidence that active women have fewer issues in later pregnancy and labor.

Cycling is a low-impact sport, so it’s a smart alternative to other sports like running. In addition, the more active and fit you are during pregnancy, the simpler it will be for you to adapt to your shifting form and weight gain. It will also assist you in dealing with labor and getting back into shape after giving birth.

Image of a pregnant woman in the dark. Source: joao paulo de souza oliveira pexels
Image of a pregnant woman in the dark. Source: Joao Paulo De Souza Oliveira Pexels

What are the benefits of cycling while pregnant?

An argument for public health is that pregnant women who incorporate exercise into their routine are more likely to continue exercising after giving birth. In addition, any cardiovascular exercise (including cycling) has favorable effects on the mother and fetus since it reduces stress and thus cortisol, which helps maintain an appropriate weight, blood pressure, and blood sugar.

Many typical pregnancy problems, such as tiredness, varicose veins, and extremity swelling, are minimized in women who exercise. In addition, active women had fewer cases of insomnia, stress, worry, and sadness.

A Chinese study showed that cycling at least three times a week and for at least 30 minutes was associated with reducing the incidence of gestational diabetes in pregnant women with high BMI (obesity).

If you don’t know if you are pregnant, check out some of these test kits below.

What are the risks of cycling while pregnant?

However, cycling while pregnant is not without risk. The two primary risks of cycling while pregnant are falling off and harming the fetus and overheating, which can cause birth defects if it occurs during the first trimester. To avoid overheating in the first trimester:

  • Wear cooler clothes
  • Stay hydrated
  • Avoid riding on hot days

Why do some women avoid cycling when they are pregnant?

According to a study published in the Journal of Transport and Health by Davara Lee Bennet, one of the main factors discouraging women from commuting by bike while pregnant was ambiguous advice from medical professionals and an unduly cautious approach from midwives and obstetricians.

Seven tips for cycling while pregnant

Below are three things to keep in mind if you consider cycling while pregnant. First, before beginning any workout during your pregnancy, consult with your doctor.

1. Consider your trimester

Most women can exercise safely and benefit both mom and baby, but some pregnancy illnesses and complications may require a doctor to limit a pregnant woman’s activity. For example, your trimester will significantly impact your ability to ride.

During the first trimester

Cycling during early pregnancy should be done with extreme caution. This is the stage at which the fetus begins to develop within the womb. As a result, any external disruptions must be minimized. Therefore, cycling should be limited in the first trimester of pregnancy and only be done if you feel like it.

During the Second Trimester

As you enter the second trimester, the fetus will have grown significantly within the womb. Miscarriage is less likely in the second trimester. At the same time, many women reclaim their early vigor and feel revitalized. Cycling can help you maintain weight and ease aches and pains by giving your muscles and joints the required workout. But stay alert and don’t overwork yourself!

During the Third Trimester

At around the third trimester, the belly begins to protrude, and your normal movements may become a little restricted, which can cause issues when cycling because the bar likes to come in between or leave you gasping for air if you pedal for a long time. Also, instead of cycling uphill, pedal on flat roads.

2. Take it easy

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says cycling while pregnant should be done with special caution. Don’t force yourself to cycle if you’re feeling queasy or weary. Avoid uneven roads since jolts can harm the fetus’s health, alter your equilibrium, and increase your risk of falling, which could end in a miscarriage.

3. Stay cool and well hydrated

Wear comfortable, breathable clothes that allow you to stay cool and a bra that provides adequate support. Drink plenty of water during your workout—even more than usual.

It should be noted that both hyperthermia and dehydration are prevalent during pregnancy and can be detrimental to both the mother and the baby. Because you’re carrying an extra 20 to 30 pounds and have 40% more blood rushing through your body near the conclusion of your pregnancy, you’re likely to sweat more and become dehydrated more easily.

4. Modify your bike set-up

To stay comfortable while pregnant, you may need to alter the saddle position and increase the handlebars on your bike. Experiment with swept-back handlebars or a shorter stem to get a more upright position. To ease tension on your lower back, sit more upright (raise the handlebars and bring them closer to you) rather than leaning forward. Try to distribute your weight evenly between your hands and body.

5. Stay in the saddle

You may be able to ride in a standing position during the first few months of pregnancy. However, as your developing belly shifts your body’s center of gravity, it exerts extra strain on your joints, making it difficult to ride while standing. Don’t worry: you can still get a solid workout if you sit the entire time—and, more importantly, you won’t overdo it or injure yourself.

6. Ride with a partner

Make it a point to bike with a partner at all times. It’s not just helpful to have a riding companion with you for safety; it’s also great to have someone give you a little boost over the hills. Bring a cell phone and identification if you decide to go out by yourself.

7. Consider your bike and equipment

When your regular biking clothes become too small, switch to maternity-specific ones. A few changes to your bike may also improve your comfort and safety. Consider putting the fixed gear bike away for a few months (sad, I know) and use a bike with a step-through frame. Finally, a broader saddle might help support your sit bones because your hips expand during pregnancy.

Stay away from clipless pedals, especially if you are new to riding clipless. They can be a death trap. You are very likely to fall off a few times before you get used to them.

If you want even more tips, watch this video titled “Should I cycle during pregnancy?” From the
cyclinglondononline YouTube Channel.

A video called Should I cycle during pregnancy? From the cyclinglondononline YouTube Channel.
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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Do you still have questions? Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about cycling and pregnancy.

Can cycling cause miscarriage?

Accidental falls could hurt your baby or cause you to lose the pregnancy, so think about whether or not you are comfortable with continuing this type of exercise.

How long can you cycle when pregnant?

Cyclin is not recommended during the first trimester, but you can cycle during the second and third trimesters. Consult your doctor beforehand.

Is it safe to bike during the first trimester?

The two most significant risks of cycling while pregnant are falling off and hurting the baby or overheating, which can cause birth defects if it happens in the first trimester.”

What are some tips on how to ride a bike while pregnant?

Determine your skill level. Much of what you can accomplish throughout pregnancy is determined by what you did before becoming pregnant. You will begin to lose your equilibrium after the first trimester. Evaluate your safety. Consume plenty of water. And modify your bike to fit your needs.

Conclusion

Best wishes on your upcoming pregnancy! We wish you a healthy and joyful pregnancy and that you enjoy cycling while pregnant! However, before you begin cycling, you should consult with your doctor. Cycling is an excellent way to raise your heart rate and burn calories, but it can also be risky for pregnant women if done incorrectly.

This article covered whether it is safe to cycle during pregnancy, the benefits of cycling while pregnant, and how to know if you can ride a bike during pregnancy. Here are some key takeaways:

Key takeaways

  • Regular exercise in pregnancy lowers the risk of gestational diabetes and excessive weight gain.
  • Many typical pregnancy problems, such as tiredness, varicose veins, and extremity swelling, are minimized in women who exercise.
  • Before beginning any workout during your pregnancy, consult with your doctor.

So, are you or do you know anyone who cycles while pregnant? Did we cover everything you wanted to know? Let us know in the comments section below (we read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, check our full blog for more tips and tricks on fixed-gear and single-speed bikes. Thanks for reading, and stay fixed.

Helpful resources

Image of man with hat kissing pregnant woman s belly. Pinterest
Image of man with hat kissing pregnant woman s belly. Pinterest

1 thought on “Cycling and Pregnancy: Is Riding a Bike Safe While Pregnant?<h2 class='secondary-title'>Are you pregnant and looking to stay active? Cycling is a great option! But be aware of risks! Read on to find out if cycling during pregnancy is safe.</h2>”

  1. If you’re out there cycling on a fixed gear bike while pregnant, that’s pretty bad ass. I’m impressed. Do you know anyone who is riding around town with a big belly? Let me know in the comments. I read and reply to all of them!

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