This is a guest post from reader Lucy JH.

We really love publishing guest posts so please email me at goosoid -at- gmail -dot- com with anything you would like published.

Cycle way with a climbing wall
Cycle way with a climbing wall

When I got pregnant some of the biggest questions I had were around how it would affect my cycling. This was mainly because we didn’t own a car at the time and I relied on cycling as my main mode of transport. I also enjoy cycling for exercise and wanted to know how long I’d be able to keep going.

Obviously, everybody’s pregnancy is very different but this blog post is about my experience of being pregnant and cycling – I hope it is helpful to others.

Trimester One

–          Around Week 6 I started getting pretty bad nausea. This prevented me from doing rides for exercise in the morning before breakfast. I was pretty fatigued as well so I couldn’t cycle after work – I just wanted to sleep. So if a daily ride for exercise is part of your daily routine and you get bad nausea or fatigue you may have to cut that out. But cheer up – lots of women don’t get either!

–          I was still absolutely fine to do the short 15 minute commute to work even though it involves several steep hills and busy roads (I had a choice of Bond Street or the Newton Gully).

Cycle way under overpass
Cycle way under overpass

–          My main issue with riding in this trimester was I often got “pulling pains.” These are sudden sharp pains in the ligaments around your uterus. They would start two or three minutes after I began cycling. In general, I found that if I stopped and rested for a minute or two they would go away. They were a minor annoyance but didn’t make cycling impossible.

–          During this period I went on a cycling holiday where I rode about 80-100 km a day for three days. It was fine, although the fatigue and nausea made it slightly less enjoyable than usual. Having said that, I was also doing the Hauraki Rail Trail which essentially means riding along a completely flat gravel path, through vast fields of cow pats for hours and hours, so it may not have been that enjoyable at the best of times. If you’re planning a cycling holiday it will probably be fine.

Trimester Two

–          A lot of women stop feeling nausea around week 13 or 14. Unfortunately, I had several bouts of hyperemesis which ended in hospital during this trimester. They made me feel weak and tired for several weeks afterwards so I wasn’t doing many rides for exercise.

Cycle path through riverside park in Melbourne
Cycle path through riverside park in Melbourne

–          Having said that, the day after a bout of hyperemesis I rode for about 30 km around Melbourne – I had to stop a bit to feel sick but I still enjoyed their network of awesome river side cycle ways.

–          Around week 20 I also started getting really bad acid reflux when riding home from work. This may have been because of the bent over posture you adopt during cycling or just because I was more tired and more susceptible to it at the end of the day.

–          I also began getting quite breathless cycling up hills. As the baby gets bigger it starts to press up into your lungs so aerobic exercise gets hard. Most women I know seemed to feel this – cycling up hills and for exercise will probably get harder for you towards the end of this trimester.

–          By week 24 the 15 minute ride to work was no longer fun – instead it was beginning to seem like a major endurance exercise.

Trimester Three

–          Around week 28 I just got too heavy and cumbersome for the cycling to be enjoyable. I could no longer cycle up hills – instead I had to push the bike. On the way home I often had to get off and walk because I was so tired. I packed it in and started driving to work instead.

–          I may have had to stop earlier than a lot of women because I had gestational diabetes and my baby got macrosomia. This means that I had a bigger baby and more amniotic fluid (and thus a bigger tummy) than many women would at this stage. However, I do know two other women who also stopped cycling at around 7 months so it seems to be quite a common time to give up.

–          In retrospect, I wish we had bought a car earlier in the pregnancy because about a week after I stopped riding I developed synthesis pubis dysfunction. This is a condition where the ligaments in your pelvis loosen up and the bones start pulling apart and you get crippling pain when you walk. Since I was borrowing somebody else’s car this made life very difficult until we bought our own. The SPD got better with physio – so by the time I gave birth I could walk about 15 minutes on flat ground very slowly – but I certainly wasn’t up to riding.

So to sum it up. You should be pretty much fine cycling for the first two trimesters of your pregnancy. But if you’re thinking of buying a car during your pregnancy – my recommendation – don’t wait until the third trimester, buy it in the second at the latest.

Having said that, I had some health problems during my pregnancy – could be that you’ll be super healthy right up until week 36. I have a friend who was still chasing lambs around the paddock (she doesn’t live in Auckland) up until the day before she went into labour.

Finally, I found it interesting that the more pregnant I got, the more concerned the people around me got about my cycling. By the time I hit the third trimester, numerous relatives, friends and colleagues were telling me explicitly that I shouldn’t be cycling at all. My decision to stop was greeted with great relief and congratulations by many people at my work.

Obviously, I had a few complications so their advice was probably partially prompted by concern for my wellbeing. It’s still a sad reflection on the state of cycling in Auckland that (like smoking) it’s seen as an activity so dangerous that pregnant women shouldn’t undertake it. We need to change that.

What do you think? Did you cycle when pregnant? Did you have to stop and, if so, when? Do you think that you need a car to get around with a newborn baby in Auckland or have you coped without?

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