a pregnant woman riding a bicycle with her son

Is it Safe to Ride a Bike When Pregnant?

Are you a fan of cycling, but worry cruising on your bike might hurt your unborn child? You’ll be happy to know most doctors agree that riding a bike isn’t dangerous during pregnancy. In fact, it can help keep you physically and mentally healthy, something which is good for you and your baby.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, cycling is a great form of aerobic exercise that improves mood, sleep, and posture. All of these will aid your baby’s growth and can help ease pregnancy and labor.

To unlock the benefits of cycling while pregnant, it’s important to adhere to certain practices or risk hurting yourself and your baby. Some of these best practices include:

Taking it Easy

Placing unnecessary strain on your body when pregnant is no good for you or your baby. As the pregnancy progresses, your body will change and may not be able to handle as much strain and stress. As such, instead of trying to break new speed or distance records, take things easier, especially when your body starts warning you it’s time to stop.

For example, nausea, pain, or exhaustion are signs to slow down or stop. Ignoring such signs could endanger you and your baby. A simple test for determining whether you are overdoing it is holding a conversation while cycling. If you struggle to catch your breath while cycling and talking, slow down.

Staying Hydrated

Normal weight gain during pregnancy means you’ll burn more energy, leading to more sweating. As your body loses fluids, you’ll need to replace them by staying hydrated, especially if you are cycling or performing other exercises.

Frequent dehydration during pregnancy can lead to complications, such as low breast milk production, neural tube defects, premature labor, and birth defects. Take enough drinking water or other fluids with you on your cycling trip.

Choose the Right-Sized Bike

pregnant woman buying a bicycle

As your pregnancy bump grows bigger, your regular bike may no longer be the right size for you. For example, a growing baby bump makes it harder to bend over the handlebars. If you can adjust the saddle and handlebar of your bike to accommodate your needs, that’s fine. You may find that you need to raise the handlebars to help you stay in an upright position.

If during pregnancy you require a new bike to accommodate changes, go for one with swept-back handlebars and a wider adjustable seat. Using a bike that’s too small can affect your balance, giving you less control and a greater chance of falling and hurting yourself or your child.

Stretchy or Loose-Fitting Clothing

If you are wearing loose-fitting clothing, it shouldn’t be so loose it ends up caught in the bike chain, pedal, or tires. Stretchy clothing, like large bib shorts, are ideal because they offer a comfortable fit without stifling you or restricting your range of motion. For optimal comfort, check to make sure your undergarments are also comfortable for riding.

Take Fewer Risks

If you typically prefer cycling on bumpy, steep trails, or busy streets, find easier routes. As the pregnancy progresses, you might find navigating sharp turns or making sudden stops more difficult. That’s because a change in weight will affect your center of gravity and response time, causing the need to adjust when taking corners or dodging sudden traffic.

Stay safe by taking more leisurely routes, such as quiet open roads, rail trails, and so on.

Eat Well

pregnant woman enjoying a bike ride outdoors

Pregnancy requires your body to burn more energy to move. During your first trimester, you’ll need at least 1,800 calories per day. By your third trimester, you’ll need at least 2,400 calories per day. If you are cycling, you need to refuel properly by eating well and at the right time.

To be safe, take extra food with you when cycling. That ensures you’ll have something to snack on if hunger pangs suddenly; but remember that the quality of what you eat is more important than the quantity. Instead of prioritizing junk food, try to eat as healthy as possible as often as possible.

Get Enough Rest

Exercising is great for you and the baby, but so is lots of rest. By the third trimester, stay off your feet as often as you can. If getting on the bike feels wrong, listen to your body and don’t force it.

In Summary

Everyone experiences pregnancy a little differently. Just because your neighbor kept biking until the day she went into labor doesn’t mean it’s right for your body. Have realistic expectations and pay attention to what your body tells you.

If you are passionate about cycling but don’t feel riding on the streets is the safest option, consider buying a stationary bike. It may not be as exhilarating or satisfying as biking outside, but at you’ll still get the quality exercise you need.

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