Pregnant Cycling – Is it Safe?

Cycling during pregnancy

Have you always loved cycling, but now wonder if pregnant cycling is safe for you and your new passenger?

Exercising while you’re expecting is a wonderful way to stay healthy and strong. It keeps you active and better prepares you for childbirth.

Cycling is a low-impact form of exercise that you can do even when you’re pregnant. Cycling not only benefits your heart, lungs, and joints but also does wonders for your mood and energy levels.

It’s also great for your baby so there’s no reason that you shouldn’t continue your cycling routine when pregnant. With that said, there are certain things to keep in mind to stay safe and avoid falls and injuries when you’re “riding for two.”

We rounded up the top tips and advice from experts on the best ways to continue cycling while pregnant so you can continue this enjoyable activity while remaining safe.

Is Cycling While Pregnant Safe?

Cycling while pregnant is generally safe as long as you don’t have any health complications and are given the green light by your healthcare provider.

Cycling is a low-impact aerobic exercise that doesn’t pose serious harm or risks to pregnant women.

However, you should be careful not to max yourself out and make it too strenuous. Also, you need to follow precautionary measures while riding a bike as there is always the risk of falling and harming yourself or your baby.

The risk of falling depends on many factors such as the terrain, traffic, and your experience level. If you didn’t cycle regularly before your pregnancy, it’s best to avoid taking up cycling now and stick to aerobic exercises that you know well.

Outdoor Cycling Tips

outdoor cycling while pregnant
Shop for Cycling Shorts for Pregnant Women

Most people recommend indoor cycling over outdoor cycling during pregnancy because it’s safer and you have a smaller risk of falling.

Even if you have years of experience riding a bike, you’ll face new challenges with balance and stability while pregnant, especially during your second and last trimester. This is because your center of gravity and ligament laxity are changing rapidly.

When cycling outdoors, there are also many factors that you can’t control. These include erratic traffic, capricious pedestrians, other cyclists, or even an unexpected change in weather that can suddenly make your favorite route more difficult and dangerous.

Follow these tips below when cycling outdoors to ensure safety:

Avoid Off-Road Cycling

Even if you have a lot of experience riding on difficult terrain, off-road cycling is a big no-no at any stage of your pregnancy.

Biking over hilly areas and other types of rough and uneven terrain may cause bumps and jolts that will be uncomfortable and can be risky for you and your baby.

Stick to flat, even terrain that is devoid of potholes. It will not only let you enjoy your ride comfortably but also help you get your daily exercise in.

Be Mindful of the Traffic

pregnant woman cycling with kids

When you’re pregnant, cycling can be a wonderful way to take your mind off things while staying active. However, it comes with rules to follow, one of which is to go biking when roads are less congested.

This will help you avoid the risk of accidents and falls. You should also wear bright-colored clothes or a high-visibility jacket while cycling so that you can be easily spotted.

Wear Protective Gear

Wear a helmet, gloves, elbow and knee guards, and other protective gear while biking.

Even if you fall, the chances of getting bruised or injured are less. Also, wear a protective mask to avoid exposing yourself to too much air pollution.

Make Sure Your Bike Fits You

You’ll experience a lot of changes to your pelvic floor during your pregnancy. As your bump grows in the second trimester, you may find it more difficult to bend over the handlebars.

Make sure your bike fits comfortably by raising the bars on your bike so that you can stay in an upright and comfortable position while riding. This will also help you reduce the load and strain on your neck and back.

Adjusting the height of the bars means that you’ll be sitting more heavily on the bike saddle so you may also have to widen the saddle to support your form and position.

Pregnant cyclists usually get a mountain bike in the latter months to add to their balance and stability while enabling them to sit in a more upright position.

Don’t Overdo It

Don't overdo it

Cycling while pregnant comes with another caveat: do not cycle for long hours. Your uterus is growing to accommodate your baby so your internal organs will feel more cramped and stuffy. This compression can leave you short of breath and also affect your energy levels.

Listen to your body and try to understand what it needs at the moment. Your mind may be craving to get on that bike and cycle around town but your body may need rest and recovery.

Moreover, this is not the time to push your limits and test yourself. The aim of cycling while pregnant is to get a moderate level of exercise and not train for the Olympics! The general rule of thumb to know if your cycling session is moderate enough is if you can talk normally while riding.

One more thing: if you start feeling too hot, it may affect your circulation. Stop cycling immediately and rest until you’re comfortable enough to continue.

Don’t Panic if You Fall

If you fall while cycling, your first reaction may be to panic but it’s critical to take deep breaths and stay calm.

While a serious fall may cause harm to your baby, your body is well prepared and able to protect it with the help of shock-absorbing amniotic fluid, membranes, and the thick muscular wall of the uterus.

If you’re still worried about your baby’s health or you feel any pain or discomfort anywhere, especially in your stomach, uterus, or pelvis, contact your healthcare provider immediately.

Indoor Cycling Tips

pregnant woman on indoor bikee

Indoor cycling is touted as the safer option compared to outdoor cycling due to the balance and stability issues that usually crop up during pregnancy.

In addition, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) mentions stationary cycling as an exercise that is safe for pregnant women.

Indoor cycling gives you the same benefits as outdoor cycling without the risk of falling or getting cuts or bruises. While you don’t have to follow as many precautions when cycling indoors, these simple tips will make your indoor cycling session even more comfortable and optimal:

Stay Well-hydrated

Hydration is important for everyone but staying hydrated is even more crucial for your and your baby’s health when you’re expecting.

You need more water for your body to perform its normal and additional functions due to pregnancy. Your body also overheats more easily during pregnancy since your metabolic rate is higher and your body can’t get rid of excess heat as quickly.

Drink enough fluids when cycling to maintain hydration levels and to keep you and your baby healthy.

Cycle in a Well-ventilated Area

Cycle in a Well-ventilated Area

Good ventilation is important when you’re exercising, especially if you’re pregnant. If you choose to cycle indoors on a stationary bike, set the bike up in a well-ventilated area. 

Also, avoid cycling when the weather is too hot to avoid overheating.

Wear Comfortable Clothes

Ensure a comfortable riding experience at all times, particularly when you’re expecting. Bring out your favorite maternity clothing such as jerseys, shorts, tights, and bibs to help you cycle more comfortably.

Should You Talk to Your Doctor?

consult your doctor before exercise

When you’re pregnant, consult your doctor before starting any exercise routine.

Talk to your OB-GYN during your first appointment and describe the kinds of exercises you plan to continue or start during your pregnancy. Don’t forget to ask about the ideal frequency of these exercises.

You should also ask your doctor about any doubts or concerns you have about cycling when pregnant. Here are a few questions you can ask your healthcare provider:

  • Can I follow the exercise guidelines recommended by the ACOG for pregnant women? Do I need to modify the guidelines?
  • What kinds of exercise do I need to avoid when I’m pregnant?
  • Do I need to change my exercise routine during each trimester?

Always follow the advice of your healthcare provider. If he or she suggests discontinuing cycling for some time or throughout your pregnancy due to any medical reason, take heed and rest.

Also, if you have any pain, discomfort, or vaginal bleeding, contact your doctor immediately and seek medical care.

Conclusion

Cycling when pregnant can be a fun way to exercise and stay fit for you and your baby. This low-impact exercise can be done throughout your pregnancy as long as your doctor gives you the go-ahead.

But be careful and follow the recommended guidelines to stay safe and avoid unnecessary risks while pregnant. Cycling should be comfortable and not dangerous so stick to easy routes and take care not to strain yourself.

Do you have other tips for cycling during pregnancy? Share them with us in the comments below!

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Last Updated on July 18, 2022 by Matthew Carpenter

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