Getting a good workout while pregnant can be hard. However, with some precautions, you can still take part in the sport you love! Cycling during pregnancy is a great way to keep your blood circulation flowing and get a great cardio workout, especially on an ebike. Some women continue to ride throughout their pregnancies, while others stop as soon as they start to show. And then there’s some who stick to a stationary bike once they find out they’re pregnant. So, what are some things you should know before cycling while pregnant?
Cycling While Pregnant
Before you head out on your ebike, take a quick assessment of your condition, especially on your first trimester. Some women may feel out of balance as their center of gravity shifts. It’s safe to keep riding if you’re an experienced rider and are comfortable riding an ebike.
How to Ride Safely
Moderation is key
The general consensus on how much exercise you should get depends on what you were doing before you became pregnant. A two-hour bike ride before breakfast is nothing unusual for an Ironman-level triathlete. For someone who is just getting started, it might be the longest trip they’ve ever had. You should remain well within your comfort zone and avoid attempting to break any records or drive yourself outside your boundaries. Doctors no longer impose heart-rate thresholds (they used to set it at 140) and now advise you to keep your activities moderate.
According to a recent study published in the American College of Sports Medicine's Health and Fitness Journal in September 2020, pregnant women can reach for 150 minutes or more of moderate exercise per week spread out over many days, and that such exercise can potentially reduce the risk of pregnancy complications.
Take it one trimester at a time
Every pregnancy is different, and you'll feel different each time you're pregnant. The first trimester is characterized by a sea of hormonal changes, the body working overtime to develop the baby and build the placenta, and you're more likely to experience morning sickness, nausea, and a general sense of "wow, I just don't feel like myself." Alternatively, you might feel just fine.
When you enter the second trimester, the early malaise usually lifts and you regain your energy. This may be the time when you feel the most at ease on your ebike. That may also be as you start to grow and your center of gravity shifts, so pay attention to how you're feeling.
Of course, heading into the third trimester is the same. However, as you get closer to your due date, you may feel uncomfortable even getting on your ebike. It’s okay to stop riding, just do what’s best for you.
Give yourself more time and space
It goes without saying that as your belly expands, you'll be a little sluggish and have less room for deep breathing. The baby growing inside you absorbs some of the extra energy you'd need to pedal. Your regular loops will begin to take longer, so prepare ahead and shorten your route as required. This is where an ebike’s motor and pedal assist comes in handy. While it can do most of the work for you, you can still get the exercise you need. Just adjust the settings as needed and you should have enough battery juice to sustain your bike ride.
The way you handle your ebike will be affected as you grow bigger and heavier. Slowing down and stopping will take more time, and cornering could be more difficult for you. In those final months, bike lanes, quiet open roads, and rail trails will be your best ally.
Get perfectly fitted
When your bump grows, you may find it more difficult to lean over the handlebars, and you may need to change the bike fit to remain stable in the bike seat. Raising the handlebars will place you in a more vertical position, which will greatly help your posture. However, since you'll be sitting more heavily on the saddle, a larger saddle, such as those used on comfort bikes, may be preferable, as they're designed to support the seat when you're sitting more upright.
You'll also need to change your wardrobe as well. A pair of bigger bib shorts, or even a padded chamois lining for your preferred maternity shorts or tights, should suffice.
Pack fluids and food
Don't underestimate the amount of energy you'll need. It’s better to pack extra snacks when you ride to keep your blood sugar up.
When you're pregnant, it's much more important to keep hydrated. Not only would the body need more fluids to fulfill any of the normal activities, let alone those associated with pregnancy, but it's actually easier to overheat while you're pregnant because your metabolic rate is higher and your body can't get rid of heat as quickly. Carry twice as much water as normal, and avoid riding in extreme weather.
Consult your OB-GYN
If you are unsure, consult with your OB-GYN. Let your doctor know about your exercise plans and if it’s safe for your condition.
If you have a high-risk disorder, such as placenta previa, a short cervix, or a history of preterm birth, your healthcare provider can warn you to stop exercising.
If you can't have a conversation when walking, you should start slowing down and taking it easy. If you find yourself out of breath, you can rest.
You and your baby’s health are the most important part of any plan to stay in shape while pregnant. Working with your Doctor and reading up on resources like this article should prepare you on being a safe rider. We hope you have a great pregnancy and hope you enjoy biking when it’s best for you.
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