The decision to ride a bike whilst pregnant is a deeply personal one, so I offer here only my insights and experiences. This is in no way a how to manual, or recommended practice.
Before I discovered I was pregnant I did what I considered to be a decent amount of cycling. I rode the 11 miles to and from work, pootled around Oxford and often did 60 – 100 km rides at weekends. I hadn’t given much thought to how I would feel about riding until I became pregnant.
My commute took me along a nice bike route for the first 8 miles of my ride, nice shared use footpaths, quiet villages, etc. The last 3 miles however spat me out right next to a service station off the M40. Cue lorries, cars not appreciating the change from motorway to A roads, multiple lanes and busy roundabouts. Whilst I’d always viewed these things as a calculated risk worth taking, once I knew I was pregnant nothing could compel me to ride the last section of the route, so I stopped commuting to work on my bike.
However, I’m still riding around Oxford and feel perfectly safe doing so. I’ve always followed basic safety, worn a helmet, used lights, been confident in my use of the road, etc. And I think, whilst the baby is the size of a pecan and safely nestled in my pelvis these things are sufficient to protect us both.
For me, the biggest obstacle I’ve found to cycling in the first three months has been the sickness and tiredness. The phrase “morning sickness” really trivialises what is a fairly debilitating state for many women. I had presumed that I would continue life as normal and just get a bit rounder. In truth I’ve been so sick and tired that even looking at my bike is enough to make me want to take a nap. Not to mention, that your blood and lungs are already working considerably harder than they were before. Which means even light exercise can leave you panting like you’ve just completed a stage of the Vuelta Espana.
The main lesson I’ve learnt here, is that you don’t have to be super woman… or rather, you are super woman, you’re making a human being and that’s pretty super. But that it’s ok to leave off riding the bike for a few months, no one will judge you or think any less of you if you need to get the bus for a while. Your bike will still be there, ready and waiting for you when you feel ready to return… which I’ll address in the next instalment aka cycling in the second trimester!