cycling while pregnant: amber of saint paul

Today’s profile comes from Amber in Saint Paul. You can find Amber regularly contributing to Pedal Minnesota and on Twitter @stpaulbikemom. Below are her experiences of biking while pregnant, first on her own and then with a toddler: 

Amber cycling while pregnant

Name: Amber Dallman

Age: 34

Location: Saint Paul, MN

Cycling for how many years:

Since childhood…over 25 years, I guess. It’s how I remember getting around even as a kid in rural Wisconsin.

Favorite part about cycling:

Even on hot, sticky, humid days there is a breeze, and when it’s below freezing with a wind chill you still get warm (with the right clothing).

Bike(s) you ride: Surly Pacer, Nice Ride (Bike Share), and Babboe City Cargo Bike (we caved and bought a “second vehicle” about a month before #2 arrived)

What three words sum up your cycling experience while being pregnant: Practical. Empowering. Utilitarian.

How did being pregnant affect your approach to cycling or your daily commute: While I am generally a cautious bicyclist, I certainly felt a lot more careful.

With my first I rode until the snow flew, which was about 8 weeks before he was born at the end of December. With our second, I occasionally biked in the winter if I didn’t have to tow the toddler to daycare and the conditions allowed for it. The snow and ice finally melted when I entered my third trimester, which I biked throughout. Our set-up for most of my pregnancy was to bike to daycare and work – I’d have a 30+ pound toddler in tow in a trailer for the first two miles. As this became increasingly more difficult with my road bike I started picking up a Nice Ride bike share bike for the remaining commute, which was more upright and stable. Using bike share was the best pregnancy bike I didn’t have buy.

As a car-light family, we try to minimize our vehicle use and were trying to figure out how we may best continue to this with the arrival of number two. We tested out some cargo bikes in my third trimester and ended up purchasing a babboe over Memorial Day weekend. It became the bike I’d take everywhere with the toddler from that point on. It was heavy and I was slow, but it was still faster than walking! In the long run the cargo bike is a great investment for us, and I can’t wait for the two kids to be in it together.

Amber cycling while pregnant

What (if anything) surprised you about cycling while pregnant?

The number of people who were shocked that I was bicycling while pregnant! I’d actually say this makes me more sad than surprised – for a couple of reasons. First, in terms of safety, bicycling while pregnant didn’t feel any more risky than riding in a vehicle. Second, my eight-mile round-trip commute and then additional miles for errands and other trips don’t seem significantly taxing in terms of what is recommended for regular physical activity for adults – including pregnant women. Plus, I felt like my grandmother who had nine children and was the matriarch of a farm did way more physical activity in a day than I did riding my bike, walking, and sitting in my cube all day for work.

In the end, I wish being active – especially bicycling – while pregnant was more a cultural norm for women and we are encouraged to continue and engage in healthy behaviors over the course of 40 weeks and then beyond.

bike baby

How did your family and friends react to you cycling while pregnant?

In general, they were supportive. My husband in particular was encouraging. He even humored my request to bike to the hospital at nearly 42 weeks. (Note: I wasn’t actually in labor, but the midwife we see felt my amniotic fluid was getting low and I was nearing over 42 weeks. So, biking to the hospital was my last ditch effort to kick things off on my own. I took a bike share bike, and my husband used his bike so he could head back home for our car.)

Others were supportive, but often expressed concern for my safety. Frequently people asked how easy it was to balance. My response became, “Well, this didn’t happen overnight. Technically, the pregnancy probably did, but my body and balance adjusted over time.”

Some of the comments I received from passersby were quite entertaining. Many were encouraging and included a thumbs-up, while others were a sentiment of shock that a pregnant woman could actually ride a bike.

What (if any) special accommodations did you require to continue cycling throughout your pregnancy?

Initially, using my road bike with the trailer worked well. However, as I become more pregnant the hunched over position was less comfortable. That’s when I discovered how great bike share bikes were for pregnant women! The upright position was more comfortable and stable-feeling. Eventually we invested in a cargo bike, which was also more upright and made schlepping our two year-old much easier (and enjoyable)! Also, I accepted that I was much slower at biking – particularly home, which is mostly uphill out of downtown Saint Paul.

What would you say to another woman interested in cycling while pregnant? What have you taken away from the experience?

Do what feels comfortable. I really believe maintaining a level of physical activity through bicycling, walking, and yoga helped me with my labor. If bicycling up to 42 weeks isn’t your thing find an activity that makes you feel strong and helps to physically, mentally, and emotionally prepare you for labor and recovery.

In addition to cycling, what other activities helped you stay fit and active during your pregnancy?

Throughout my pregnancy I also walked and ran (particularly in the winter months with toddler in tow) and did prenatal yoga.

Thanks so much, Amber, for sharing your story with us! I love the ingenius use of the upright bike share bikes as a loaner pregnancy bike, great creative problem solving. For more on biking in Minnesota and Saint Paul’s bike share program, check out the Pedal Minnesota website!

Did you bike during your pregnancy? Want to share your story with us? Send me an email!

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About simplybike

{Bikes, a new baby, and the story of us.}
This entry was posted in Advocacy, Biking while Pregnant, Biking with Kids, Fit Pregnancy, Guest Posts. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to cycling while pregnant: amber of saint paul

  1. jen says:

    Great tip for moms…and I love that onesie!

  2. Pingback: Link Love | Woman On a Wheel

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