Photo by Lauren HefferonIf you can bear the looks of disdain and judgmental comments, bicycling while pregnant can actually be a safe and easy way to stay in shape.
Lauren Hefferon is a blogger, mother, and avid cyclist from Arlington, Massachusetts, who owns a bicycle tour company and biked her way through three healthy pregnancies. She has some tips for the cyclist who wants to continue.
"I think it's so important for women not to give the things they love up," Hefferon says. "For me, bicycling while I was pregnant planted the seed for me to be able to say, ‘I'm not going to give it up.' It's an important time for women to make that real mental choice to say, 'I'm not going to give it up.'"
For many women, the biggest obstacle to biking while pregnant is fear of falling. Obviously, any pregnant woman who wishes to continue biking should check with her doctor first and have some experience with the sport.
Like any other pregnancy workout, it's best not to start it when pregnant. Choose an exercise you're already doing. But if you're already riding, there's no need to stop.
A few tips from Hefferon:
- Don't push it: "When I was pregnant the first time, I did not-so-smart things like mountain-biking through the snow and ice in my eighth month. This wasn't the best plan." Though her son is now a healthy 10-year-old who bikes himself, Hefferon says she took less chances with her two subsequent pregnancies.
- Buy a padded seat: "By my sixth month, I bought a big, furry seat for my bike," she says. "It was wonderful."
- Ditch the road bike and go upright: Once the belly shows up, it can be uncomfortable to bend over a road bike. Borrow an upright and see how that feels, says Hefferon.
- Smooth terrain: When Hefferon was pregnant, she often left the bumpier rides to others and instead frequented bike paths and smoother stretches of road.
Issues like hemorrhoids and cervical pressure will tell you if you need to stop biking, but in general, cycling can be a great, low-impact way to stay in shape throughout a pregnancy. Just make sure to wear a helmet.