cycling while pregnant: emily of ontario, canada


{Quite possibly the best baby shower donation box ever made}

Name: Emily
Age: 24
Location: Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Cycling for how many years: 5

Favorite part about cycling: Everything! Being active while getting places, being able to get around town without being in a stuffy vehicle (buses and cars make me sick even when I’m not pregnant!), passing my cyclist friends on the way to work, not paying for gas…

Bike(s) you ride: Kona Fire Mountain until about half-way through my pregnancy – it’s my year-round bike, though it’s super-heavy with a steel frame. Then I switched to the Dutch omafiets that I brought back from Amsterdam when I moved home from my study exchange. With only three gears meant for the flatness of riding along a dijk it was a bit more difficult to ride in that sense, but being upright made it worthwhile.

What three words sum up your cycling experience while being pregnant: Fun, necessary, liberating

How did being pregnant affect your approach to cycling or your daily commute: I definitely did not cycle as much, or go as far. I had to either find new routes or just not cycle to some destinations. Some of the places I would normally cycle to are either along the main road in our city, or along trails that have a few too many bumps for a pregnant belly! I also cycled much more defensively, and cut out actions like running red lights and such.


{Emily cycling at 37 weeks pregnant}

What (if anything) surprised you about cycling while pregnant? I was surprised at how easy it was (most of the time – some days I would get really winded). Friends asked me right up to the end if I had any issues with balance and I said no. I would go to our CSA pickup and fill up my panniers and even though it was just a block away, it was still easier to cycle it home than to try to carry it all! I biked to a café to meet my friend on my due date, and biked to my midwife appointment at 40+3 weeks. Granted it’s about a 10 minute ride to my city’s downtown and 5 minutes to the midwife, but that’s still significant to a lot of people!

How did your family and friends react to you cycling while pregnant? Most of my close friends are avid cyclists so they thought it was cool/normal (I’m one of the first to get pregnant, so I don’t think many of them had thought about it much), though non-cyclists were occasionally concerned for me.

What (if any) special accommodations did you require to continue cycling throughout your pregnancy? Just switching to the omafiets. And slowing down significantly, I suppose.

What would you say to another woman interested in cycling while pregnant? What have you taken away from the experience? If they already cycle regularly, I say go for it! I had a lot of women say they could never do it because they aren’t comfortable enough on a bike in the first place, in which case I’d say improve before you plan to get pregnant and then it will be much easier! I found it quite liberating to still be able to bike even when my feet were tired from preserving jams or being at an event all day. Also biking in a snowstorm on the way to campus is a great way to take your mind off the first-trimester nausea before TAing a class!

In addition to cycling, what other activities helped you stay fit and active during your pregnancy? I had planned to do pre-natal yoga but couldn’t afford it, either with time or money, so I just walked a lot. We have a dog so it’s a lot easier to be motivated to get out and walk. Also the bike entrance at my work is an extra flight below the front entrance to my building and there’s no elevator, so several times a day I climbed three flights of stairs which I think helped me stay fit throughout!


Thanks, Emily! When Emily first wrote me, she was 41 weeks pregnant and had just returned – by bike! – from her ultrasound appointment. You can find Emily writing at The Duke St. Diggers, where she shares stories of living in a community of three families under one roof, identifying themselves as a collective of “activists, students, artists, mothers, fathers, historians, bakers, environmentalists, and, of course, diggers.” 


Want to read more stories of women cycling well into their pregnancies? Check out the other “cycling while pregnant” profiles and contact me if you’d like to add your voice to the series!

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{Bikes, a new baby, and the story of us.}
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