Nowadays, cycling increasing popularity between women and it becomes a beautiful scene. However, because of the differences in physical structure between men and women, women will be restricted by some force majeure factors, pregnancy is one of these factors. When an active woman becomes pregnant, she has to make many decisions. Should she continue her current exercise or training program? How much exercise is too much? Should she reduce her training intensity? Can exercise hurt her baby? Although questions are multiplying, well-meaning but unsolicited advice can make an expectant mom even more insecure: "Maybe you should just rest and concentrate on growing a baby." "All that exercise can't be good for a developing fetus, can it?" "You exercise too much, this is a good time to take a break from all that." So what are the advantages of cycling during pregnancy?
Benefits of cycling while pregnant
Here are some advices from Obstetricians and Gynaecologists that maternal benefits appear to be both physical and psychological in nature. Many common complaints of pregnancy, including fatigue, varicose veins and swelling of extremities, are reduced in women who exercise. Additionally, active women experience less insomnia, stress, anxiety and depression.
If you have chosen to continue cycling during your pregnancy, there are a few dos and don’ts you will need to be aware of.
Talk to your doctor and midwife at your first appointment, letting them know exactly how much cycling you’re doing now and how much you’d like to continue to do through your pregnancy. If there is any medical reason for you to stop exercising, take heed. It’s only nine months, after all.
Listen to your body.
You are growing an entire human being inside of you – that’s seriously hard work. If your body is giving message that it’s time to slow down or stop, listen to it.
Think about your route.
If you enjoyed whizzing down steep roads or off-road mountain-biking, it might be worth giving those a miss. But if you’re sticking to safe, relatively quiet roads, the benefits you’ll get from cycling will balance out any risks. And make sure you’re fully kitted out with lights and Day-Glo jacket even during the day, so that drivers can spot you.
Allow for tiredness.
During the first trimester, your body is creating the placenta, and that’s no easy feat. You could be far more tired than usual, so plan accordingly. Try and avoid long, arduous journeys or bicycle training sessions in the evenings – chances are you’ll feel more energetic in the morning. You can carry on cycling in the second trimester and third trimester but get advice from your Doctor and keep safe.
As your bump grows in the second trimester, you may find it more comfortable to raise the handlebars on your bicycle so you are sitting in a more upright position.
Assess your balance.
In some cases your balance can be affected by your growing bump. In the later stages there is no escaping that your center of gravity will change as your bump grows, if your balance starts to go a bit ‘off’ then stay off the bike, a fall at this stage isn’t great.
In the saddle.
It’s normal and healthy to gain weight during your pregnancy, but the extra load might make you a bit saddle-sore. There are a multitude of women’s specific saddles on the market, and some have extra padding, or get a gel-filled saddle cover, which are much comfier.
Watch out for backache.
Common side effects of pregnancy and your changing body include backache, rib and side pain, and hip pain. If you are suffering from any of these and it’s uncomfortable on the bike, give the cycling a rest. Dutch-style upright bikes (such as Pashleys) put you in a better position that may help to prevent aches and pains. Pregnancy yoga will help with aches and pains or try pregnancy massage.
Don’t overdo it.
If it is getting too much like hard work and you are not enjoying it, then stop. You do not have to soldier on if you are struggling and just because your friend cycled herself to hospital to give birth, does not mean your body ‘should be able to cope’ with cycling. Every pregnancy is different. As your baby grows your internal organs need to jostle for position. You may not know your lung capacity may be reduced. If you are getting out of breath, slow down or, in severe cases, stop and take a breather. It is important that you do not overheat when you are pregnant, so keep your sessions, brisk but not too sweat-inducing.
Note: although the advice published is according to the medical professionals and cycling experts’ research, you should always consult your doctor before cycling during pregnancy.
An argument for public health is that women who incorporate exercise into their routine during pregnancy are more likely to continue exercising after birth. These benefits are not exclusive to cycling, but if that is a woman’s preferred method of exercise, it is more helpful than a sedentary lifestyle. Some scientists also shared further research into the benefits: "In a Chinese study, they found that cycling initiated in early pregnancy, at least three times a week and for at least 30 minutes was associated in reducing the risk of gestational diabetes in pregnant women with high BMI (obese)." The spokesperson continues to say that "It is recognized that any aerobic exercise in general (including cycling) has beneficial effects on the mother and fetus as it reduces stress and therefore cortisol, helps maintain healthy weight, blood pressure, and blood sugars."
So if you choose cycling during pregnancy, remember that, no need to stop, but do take it easy.