cycling while pregnant: the third trimester

cycling while pregnant
This is the third in a series of guest posts for Girls and Bicyles on the subject of cycling while pregnant. You can follow along with the series here or on Girls and Bicyles, where you can also read all about Miss Sarah cycling while pregnant with her second child. If you’re a pregnant cyclist or have cycled while pregnant in the past, we would love to hear from you! Email us or leave us a comment! Have any particular questions you’d like us to address? Chime in on the discussion below!

Cycling at 32 weeks {heading to my prenatal yoga class at 32 weeks pregnant}

As Miss Sarah’s already beautifully demonstrated (with this pregnancy and her first one), cycling and pregnancy are not mutually exclusive. As long as you feel good and have the green light from your medical care provider to continue your regular exercise routine, there is no reason to store your bike away until after the birth. I loved riding my bike throughout my pregnancy and was able to keep riding long after I gave up on running or any other kind of more vigorous form of physical activity. Unlike running, biking provided a smoother ride, was less jarring on my belly, and even helped support some of that extra weight as my legs and lungs did the work. My midwives and physicians assured me that as long as I was staying hydrated and mindful of my limitations, there was no reason not to bike, and so bike I did…

grocery shopping by bike

cycling at 33 weeks pregnant

I biked to the nearby grocery store, to coffee shops, to meet-ups with friends, and anywhere else I needed to go during those last weeks of pregnancy. Early in the third trimester, I still felt able to go on longer rides, such as the one pictured above, to my yoga center via a coffee date with a friend, and then back home. All in all, I rode just under 10 miles that day with breaks inbetween. After that, things slowed down a bit and by weeks 34 and 35, I aimed to ride for no more than 5 miles round trip on any given day. Given that it was summer and incredibly hot, I wanted to make sure that I didn’t push my body too much and didn’t risk overheating and dehydration.

baby bellies

Strawberry Rhubarb Crepes

Bike to lunch

Cycling at 35 weeks pregnant
Around week 34, friends came in from out of town to celebrate with us and to attend our baby shower. One of my good friends was just over half way through her pregnancy, expecting her second child. An active preggo herself, she had no reservations about borrowing a bike and touring our small town on two wheels. We also equipped our other good friends with bikes and spent the morning after the baby shower riding to a nearby cafe, enjoying crepes and coffees on the patio before riding back home at a leisurely pace.

Although being pregnant meant slowing down, riding shorter distances, and being more mindful of my body; it never meant changing my lifestyle completely or opting out of things I loved to do before the pregnancy.

outdoor office parking

Cycling while pregnant

Summer Cycle Chic (with Belly) Just another bike ride

I continued to ride until my 38th week. At which point I came to the conclusion that my diminished lung capacity made me so out of breath that even just short bike rides within my neighborhood simply weren’t that enjoyable anymore. Just like that, one day it stopped being fun. And so I stopped riding.

My bikes and I; we had a good run. They kept me fit and feeling good through almost nine months of pregnancy, and so with no hard feelings, we said goodbye for the time being. My body knew when it was time to quit and I respected its wishes. I spent the last 3.5 weeks after that taking slow swims at the pool and stretching as often as possible on my yoga mat at home.

I believe that the time spent cycling, practicing prenatal yoga, swimming, and walking were key to keeping me not just physically but emotionally well during my pregnancy. And it also set me up for feeling strong and able going into the birth. I will always have fond memories of that summer, lugging around my huge baby belly, slowly pedaling along familiar routes, thinking of the little being I was soon to meet. Sure there were leg swellings and rib aches and a myriad of other pregnancy induced ailments. But thinking back now, those things all fade away and the memories that stay are ones of days spent outdoors, doing the things I loved, huge baby belly and everything.

Happy cycling, fellow pregnant ladies!

My vintage Raleigh Sports

Cycling at 38 weeks pregnant

Cycling at 38 weeks pregnant{last bike ride, on the way home from a coffee shop date with friend, 38 weeks pregnant}

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{Bikes, a new baby, and the story of us.}
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27 Responses to cycling while pregnant: the third trimester

  1. Pingback: Radfahren mit Baby an Bord – geht das? «

  2. kim says:

    Yay…so glad I stumbled upon this. I am nearly 15 weeks pregnant and still riding my mountain bike on a regular basis. Although my rides are currently less intense, I feel best and healthiest when I am moving and staying active.
    I’ve gotten some negative comments about the dangers of mountain biking from peers and coworkers, but my doctor has ok’d my activity of choice and I am more mindful about which trails I ride and certainly more cautious in general.

  3. Juliet says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this! I am a super-avid road biker (during the summer, I rode 100-150 miles a week and did my first century ride in August). I am currently 9 weeks pregnant, still doing shorter rides on my road bike for exercise (a 20-miler this past weekend) and still commuting via bike every day (using my single-speed cruiser). Haven’t been to my first OBGYN appointment yet — that’s next week — but hoping my doctor gives the OK to continue! Thanks for this inspiration to keep on biking!

    • simplybike says:

      Thanks for the comment, Juliet! Glad you found this and good luck with biking in the coming months! Sounds like you have a great foundation to carry you through the pregnancy in terms of staying fit and active. Wishing you and your growing family all the best!

      S.

      • Juliet says:

        Just had my first appointment today (I biked to and from the appointment!), and Doctor gave the OK to continue. She said as long as I feel comfortable, I should be fine. Whew!

        I commuted all through last winter here in Philadelphia, so I’m hoping we have another relatively mild one so I don’t end up stopping cycling. Hoping to keep going until my due date on May 28!

        Keep the preggo posts coming! :-)

        • simplybike says:

          Congrats, Juliet! Wishing you a safe and happy pregnancy with lots of bike rides along the way! :)

          S.

          • Juliet says:

            Just thought I’d write a quick update — my biking stretch came to an end back around the middle of November when my doctor found a small subchorionic hemorrhage and put me on “pelvic rest.” Since then, I’ve just been walking for exercise and for commuting purposes. It sure takes a lot longer to get around town, and I miss my bike! I’m mostly grateful that it’s winter now, which is when I usually give up riding my road bike. I have my 20-week ultrasound in January, and am hoping and praying the hemorrhage is gone so I can 1. Stop worrying about it and 2. Get back on the bike!

            Best wishes to all of the cycling preggo ladies out there!

  4. Sarah Jane says:

    Glad to see this post! My husband and I did a 500 mile, 2 week bike trip in Europe during my first trimester, with the okay of the OB. It was slightly abbreviated from our original (pre-pregnancy) plan, but it felt great. I continued weekend 20-milers until my belly felt too big to be comfortable on my road bike, about month 4, and have continued to commute daily on a more upright bike. Unfortunately, my pelvis and tailbone have just started to get very uncomfortable biking, at week 30, and I am facing the sad prospect of hanging up the bike for the last stretch of my pregnancy. I have talked with another friend that expressed the same problem. I bought a new seat that is wider and cushier — fingers crossed it helps, but if you’ve got other suggestions, let me know!

    • simplybike says:

      Hi Sarah Jane,

      thanks for the comment and congrats on cycling thus far into your pregnancy! I actually did not experience any discomfort in my pelvis/tailbone region while cycling, so I can’t offer any tips or advice on that one. I hope the cushier seat works and that you’re able to continue riding for as long as you want to. As it is, you’re sooo close to the home stretch, so best of luck with the rest of the pregnancy!

      S.

  5. Nikki says:

    Before I got pregnant, I rode every day, even until week 10, when it slipped out in front of my obgyn that I was riding and she was NOT ok with it. I asked why and she said because of speed bumps and pot holes and I could fall, but I continued riding normally (between 2-12 kilometers a day) until week 15 when my husband found out my doctor said no haha. Since then I’ve been riding about once a week (during the day on a super not bumpy sidewalk with my hubby), 15 kilometers and walking other days. I’m 31 weeks now, and I love my bike! If my husband didn’t get so bent out of shape about it Id continue everyday like before. I take my time now, as to not get out of breath. I feel like a fat girl must feel (walking up stairs, bending over, etc) but keep on riding ladies!

  6. erica says:

    I love this blog post! Thank you! I am 10 weeks pregnant and due in early September and was so sad I’ be missing a whole season of summer biking (I live in Michigan, so in Winter I really only commute by bike…not much pleasure riding). What kind of bike do you recommend as your belly gets bigger? I can see your bike in these pictures, you had no problems with hitting your belly, etc? I am guessing my commuter bike (a mountain bike, essentially) and road bike will not accommodate my belly come summer! Under dr. supervision, I’d ideally like to do a triathlon at 5.5 months, too (the earliest race I can find is in May, the rest of the summer I’ll be too pregnant, I’m guessing), and am trying to figure out what bike I could use for this. Thanks for the help!

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  8. Roz says:

    I am 24 weeks pregnant and am still mountain and road riding. I did a 34 mile road ride just today! My MTB fits me well as I ride a 29er, so the geometry works well at my height (im 5’4″) but on my road bike, I replaced my regular stem with a riser stem and that has helped it remain comfortable as my belly grows. My OB has no problem with me riding in either setting – I was a MTB racer for ten years and I’m a nurse practitioner, so he trusts my judgment, and I do walk when I hit sketchy off road terrain.

  9. Pingback: Bumps on bikes - should I carry on cycling during pregnancy?

  10. Marina says:

    Thank you so much for this article! We are trying to conceive and I was worrying if I should continue commuting by bike… No more worries here!

  11. Kymberly Swope says:

    I literally just found this after researching cycling while pregnant. I just found out I am pregnant and I was a runner for several years, turned cyclist the last month or two. I am going my doctor gives me the ok to keep going! I don’t want to lose my new found passion, even if it is just 9 months. Thank you for such an amazing post.

  12. dario says:

    Reading this I realized I should get some more information on this subject. I feel like there’s a gap in my knowledge. Anyway, thanks.

  13. Niamh says:

    Hi is it safe to start cycling for thr first time when you’re pregnant? I’m seven weeks gone and just bought a bike. It’s just for Sunday cycles while the weather is good. No road cycling.

  14. SailorGurl says:

    I’m 29 weeks pregnant and have logged 1150 km so far this pregnancy on my road bike, but after having jacked up the stem to a ridiculous degree and I’m still finding that my thighs are pushing into my abdomen when cycling. I tried out my mountain bike today, figuring that it might be a better position, but given the work I did to my road bike, it turns out to be very similar to the angle for my mountain bike and isn’t any better. Is this something any of you experienced? Just wondering if it’s a bad thing for the baby or not, since I would love to keep cycling for as many more weeks as possible before it’s too cold outside for me (ie. below freezing).

    • Fran says:

      First I just want to say amazing, inspirational pôst! I’m 29 weeks and still going strong :) despite other people’s reservations!

      SailorGurl – raise the handlebars and open out your knees a bit and you’ll be absolutely fine. A couple of weeks ago I was trying to figure out the logistics of bump and bike, and changing my posture to being more upright has give me that bit of extra room I need.

      • I am right there with you both at 29 weeks now. Just raise the stem and the mountain bike may be a more comfortable ride than your road bike at this point. When it does get chillier, while it isn’t the same, spinning classes do help with the cycling feel too. Congrats on your upcoming little ones!

        • Kuni says:

          THESE days:Alexander, AlexandriaAnnaAnthony, Antonia (she would be My Antonia)AliciaAdamAaronPlease if you want your child to be unusual and unquie, let their personalities be unusual and unquie, not their names. I can understand not wanting to have 4 Anthony’s in the same class, but there are plenty of strong under-used names that will not have your child feeling self-conscious. Was this answer helpful?

  15. SailorGurl says:

    Thanks Fran! I’ve got my handlebars raised to a silly looking angle now, and any higher would definitely impede steering. I have trouble turning my legs out to bike with my clipless pedals. Might give it another try with my MTB & normal shoes though as I’m definitely missing cycling in this beautiful fall weather.

  16. Your post about biking while pregnant is wonderful. I am currently 29 weeks with #3, bike commute everywhere and am a personal trainer/boot camp instructor who taught until right before #2 was born. Biking feels so good and while it may be a slower ride now than when not pregnant, it is bliss. I look forward to sharing your blog post with other Pregnant Jocks. Thanks much and congrats on your little one.
    Cheers- Erin Kreitz Shirey- digdeepplayhard.com

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  18. Emily K says:

    Not sure if anyone is still monitoring this, but it’s still showing up high in the search results! I just hit 33 weeks today and am still riding my road bike. I use it mostly for commuting around Baltimore. Our last major leisure ride was in Amsterdam in April (I think I was about 25 weeks then). It’s definitely been great exercise, and great for my mental health! I have been a regular bike commuter for 7 years, and so I feel very comfortable on my bike and in the city traffic. I have altered my regular routes to use more secondary roads with less traffic. My midwife is fine with me continuing to ride, as long as i know my limits. I think in the coming weeks i’m going to have to consider a stem riser, as my belly is really starting to crowd things out, but we’ll see how it goes. Yay for biking mamas!!

    • churcmo says:

      Emily-

      I’m in Baltimore too! I realize you are probably in a whole new world of motherhood right now, but I was interested in touching base and wondering if you know other pregnant ladies cycling in B’more?

      -Mollie

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