cycling while pregnant: the first trimester, the second time around

Mother's Day {cycling at 12 weeks pregnant}

As I write this, I am seventeen weeks along in this pregnancy. I’ve made it through the difficult first trimester that seemed to leave me paralyzed with fatigue most of the time. I don’t remember feeling this tired with my first pregnancy and I definitely did not feel any such strong pregnancy symptoms with my second pregnancy that only lasted 7 weeks. Despite the nausea and fatigue, I still made it out for the occasional bike ride and now that the first trimester fog has lifted, my bike and I are back on track. Since this pregnancy (and my relationship to cycling) seems to be pretty different from when I wrote about cycling while pregnant before, I thought I’d add to the dialogue with a recap of how cycling through the first trimester the second time around is going.

(I’m going to refer to this as my second time cycling while pregnant, but technically, it’s my third time as I cycled the entire seven weeks that I was pregnant with my pregnancy that ended in a miscarriage. In retrospect, it’s interesting that I felt completely fine during those seven weeks and experienced no fatigue or nausea and had absolutely no trouble biking as much as I wanted to on our Florida vacation. Since that pregnancy ended shortly after it began and since I didn’t experience any pregnancy symptoms, I’m going to refer to this experience as my second time of “cycling while pregnant.”)

Reading my previous post on first trimester cycling, I’m struck by how different of an experience that was compared to this one. I felt strong, energetic, able, barely affected by the pregnancy. The tiredness was manageable and my nausea mostly came in the evenings. I was also in a much different place when I became pregnant: I had been running regularly before that and cycling regularly as well. Although I had scaled back my work-outs considerably from the previous year when I had trained for and run two half marathons within two weeks of each other (and set a new PR for myself), I was still in great physical shape. That stamina stayed with me as I continued to bike, run, and walk during the first trimester albeit at a slower pace.

Fast forward to this pregnancy: Picture a long cold winter with much time spent indoors. Add to it a toddler keeping me on my feet all day long. Throw in a part-time lecturer position at the university. Now picture the “for sale” sign in front of our house and imagine all of the work required to sell a home. Am I exercising regularly….? Ha! Am I exhausted? You bet! It’s hard to say whether the first trimester this time around was so much more brutal because of the nature of the pregnancy or the fact that life has changed for us. Life is crazier, busier, harder, and also fuller. I sink into bed exhausted each night but in a good way. I wouldn’t change a thing about this but I also am far away from those earlier care-free days of just me, my excitingly new pregnancy, and the schedule of someone still relatively unencumbered by many of the responsibilities still to come.

As a result, I tried to rest as often as possible and only cycled or walked when it felt good. My longest bike rides during the first trimester were on Kidical Mass days when I biked far more than I would on a regular day (often around 10 miles round-trip) but with the added help of having T. pull our daughter in the trailer.

Oh yeah! That’s another thing: cycling while pregnant this time around meant cycling with TWO on board: one growing baby inside my belly and one excited toddler in her bike seat or trailer. Add that to the mix and there you have it: cycling this time around just wasn’t as easy.

But it was still very much desired and I tried to bike as much as I could, my body permitting. I accepted my slower pace and the fact that some days (or weeks) I just couldn’t muster the energy for it. But when I could, it was glorious.

Mother's Day {bike ride to the botanical garden for Mother’s Day, 12 weeks pregnant}

Lest you think that cycling this time around (and being pregnant this time around) is all work and no fun, let me add that things have drastically improved as I have made my way into the second trimester. I have more energy again and I feel good. Last week I started attending prenatal yoga classes and I biked there and back. I’ve been going to free Saturday morning yoga sessions at a near-by park and I’ve been biking there too. Another thing that has helped: our recent home move put us in a much more central position to all of the businesses and amenities in town so where it used to be a 4+ mile bike ride to get to most of my destinations, we’re now within a mile or two of most places I’d want to go. This means that I can bike or walk to everything and that I’m slowly building up endurance and strength again.

Cycling to prenatal yoga at 16 weeks {heading to prenatal yoga at 16 weeks}

Yoga in the park{free yoga in the park. I biked there.}

I mostly want to record this experience for those who come to this site looking for information on cycling while pregnant (one of the most popular searches bringing readers here) and find my account from two years ago. If you read that and thought, must be great to be her and feel so good, I don’t feel great at all so I guess I shouldn’t try to continue biking because it’s just not fun anymore… to those women I want to say: hang in there! Even if the first trimester is kicking your ass, it won’t necessarily stay that way! It will likely get better and you’ll be glad you tried to stay active when possible. Take things slowly and listen to your body (and health care provider) and trust that your body knows what it needs and how much activity it can handle while its growing another human being. Walk, swim, bike, run when it feels good and don’t when it doesn’t and know that you’ll likely go through many stages and levels of (in)activity during these 40 weeks.

As for me? I feel good enough that I’m going to bike to the pool today (a first! – combining a bike ride with some light swimming). And I hope to have many more bike rides left in me this trimester and the next. Happy cycling!

Are you cycling while pregnant? How has it been going for you? What would you tell someone wondering about cycling while pregnant? Please leave your comments below! I’d love to hear your impressions!

For more cycling while pregnant testimonials, check out these reader profiles and stay tuned for a new profile coming later this week! Would you like to participate in the series? Send me a message and I’ll provide the details! 

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About simplybike

{Bikes, a new baby, and the story of us.}
This entry was posted in Biking while Pregnant, Family, Helmet Head, Life in a Small Town, Pregnancy, Summer Cycling. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to cycling while pregnant: the first trimester, the second time around

  1. With her first my wife cycled until week 36. The second time around we cycled to the hospital for her 30 week Ultrasound scan. Unfortunately, my wife was hospitalised and our second was born 10 weeks premature. The day before the scan my wife cycled 16 miles with our eldest in a cargobike.
    We were in Amsterdam and my wife was inspired seeing pregnant women, newborns in slings, whole families riding along on bikes.

    • Piero says:

      Daissy – I’m happy to hear you are doing fine. Since I’m taking your onlnie class it feels that I don’t see you anymore. Best wishes in the preparations. You know you can count on us if you need something.Take Care and say hola to Hope!

  2. Bobbie says:

    Oh man, now I have to bike to the pool too ;)

  3. Lisa C says:

    Great post! My husband found this blog somehow & sent me the link to this post because it looks like you & I have a lot in common (even the same iBert seats!). :) I continued cycle commuting to work, as I had been for years, through my first pregnancy up until a few days before I miscarried at almost 18 weeks. The doctors were never able to explain what happened, though everyone assured me it wasn’t because of the cycling. The second time I got pregnant, I was afraid of losing another baby, so I cut out anything that was in any way risky (very careful with diet, chemical exposure, etc) including cycling. The pregnancy & birth were both wonderful & I resumed cycling more regularly when my son was about nine or ten months old & big enough for a helmet.

    I’m currently 28 weeks pregnant, this time still cycling. I’m more relaxed about everything pregnancy & baby related this time. I decided that if I’m willing to ride with my son on my bike, why wouldn’t I ride with a baby in my belly? Also, it’s often the easiest way to get places. My hips are bugging me this pregnancy–it started a lot earlier than last time around–so walking is a bit uncomfortable. Cycling is great because I can coast down hills & I’m sitting the whole time, plus there’s practically no impact.

    I have had to slow down a bit though. I find I get short of breath quite easily on the hills–I assume this is due to the increased blood volume & oxygen demands of a developing baby that come with pregnancy, plus having more weight to carry. When I started to get too tired from biking big grocery hauls up the hills home from Costco & 15km outings to the beach with the amlost-three-year-old on the bike, I started cutting those out & taking transit more. East Vancouver (Canada) where we live isn’t as bad as San Francisco, but it’s pretty hilly, nonetheless.

    I can see myself continuing to ride for at least another month or two, just a little slower, in lower gears, not carrying anything heavy. :) Good luck with your pregnancy! I’ll definitely be back to visit your blog again. I will probably link to this post in one of my upcoming posts on SpokesMama.com too.

  4. This is such an inspirational post for second (an third) time Mums. You really capture the challenges of trying to cycle with a bump
    And a toddler. Thanks Karen

  5. Connie says:

    I’ve seen a few women biking while pregnant, and I thought that it was great! As someone who bikes everywhere, I was worried about giving up my main form of transportation when I have my own little bun in the oven, but now I hope I’ll be able to continue biking… at least some!

  6. I’m so glad you’re feeling better! Pregnancy doesn’t seem to be kind to my sister, the only one of us 3 girls to procreate so far. I’m a little bit worried that if/whenever we decided we’re ready, I’ll have those kinds of miseries too. But, we are very different so maybe it will be lovely. Anyhow, I’m very glad to read that you are back to being your happy active self :)
    Thanks for so many lovely pictures!

  7. Ruth says:

    Nice to read this post about cycling with the second pregnancy. One of my anxieties about a second pregnancy is exercise – I was able to stay very active with my first pregnancy because I had the time (not needing to take care of another child) and I wasn’t choosing between sleep and activity (or cleaning, cooking, etc!). Even now (not being pregnant) I find it difficult to fit in exercise even though I would really like to. But of course I will be active by playing with my son, it’s just not the same as a good sweaty workout with a nice stretch at the end (or a full 90 minute yoga class)! Ha. Anyway, I love the photos – especially the one of you by the bike with little C looking up at you. So cute.

  8. Sarah Kay says:

    I cycled up until the day I went into labor with my son. I did take the bus more often toward the end, but some places are just easier and faster to get to on bike. I know my midwife would have preferred if I had stopped biking, but it is my main form of transportation and I was unwilling to stop. My speed decreased greatly as the pregnancy went on, but otherwise it was business as usual. Thanks for writing about this–it was hard to find other women’s experiences when I was pregnant. It’s refreshing (and inspiring!) to read about other biking mamas.

    • simplybike says:

      Thanks for chiming in, Sarah! I can echo a lot of your thoughts on this – I also struggled to find more information and examples of other women cycling while pregnant. I know I’ll rely on bus/walking towards the end but some things are just easier and faster by bike and I hope I can ride as long as you did!

  9. sarah says:

    Hi there… I’m late to this party but cycling to work every day with my first @ 26 weeks. I am picking out a “mom bike” though… probably a Civia Twin City step through… the stem on my touring bike is just too close to my belly when I “stop short” now (the frame was always a bit too small I think, now those chickens are coming home to roost). I believe a more upright posture would be a welcome change too. I’ll probably start using panniers again, or get a rear basket so I’m not carrying my crap on my back anymore as well.

    Anyway, enjoying reading about all the moms who bike. It’s funny to think that this time last year, my husband and I were on our honeymoon biking from Berlin to Copenhagen, and it was there that I saw so many pregnant women cycling and wondered “could I? would?” Well I would and I can, as it turns out. I will admit that it’s not all a bowl of cherries though. Last night I cried thinking about how I won’t be able to commute to work with a small infant… it may sound ridiculous and selfish to those who don’t do it and love it, but for me it’s going to be a big adjustment (if only a temporary one).

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