I found this amongst my draft posts….from 4 years ago a better description of cycling while pregnant 🙂
My transport experiences lately haven’t taken me to distant lands but they have taken me to slightly foreign territory. In January this year I found out I was pregnant. Along with all the thoughts, feelings and panic attacks, I thought about how this would affect my transport through my city – from the immediate impact of being pregnant to the long term impact of have this growing child to occupy, nurture and hope they become a decent human being in a humane world.
First I’ll talk about pregnancy. I’m still only 7.5 months pregnant so I can’t speak for what it’s going to be like from now until the birth but so far riding my bicycle as my main mode of transport has been great, not perfect, but great. At the start I did internet searches to try and work out what made sense, but the myriad of different opinions and different experiences led me to realise that it was, as it should be, a personal choice. All along I have said that if my body decides it can’t do it anymore I will stop, but I still haven’t had to face that possibility.
In my first trimester I was tired, really tired – it’s how I worked out that I was either pregnant or some other parasite was taking all my energy. I kept riding though – in some ways riding does take some energy but in other ways it gives you it back, especially on beautiful days. There were times when I did feel a little light headed and if my commute was much longer (it’s roughly 9 km) I might have had to stop and walk a bit. I never got really nauseas and I actually think the daily exercise and the movement on the bike helped. I was trying to be careful with the potholes and cracks but occasionally when I did hit a bump, I felt my belly asking questions of the city’s road maintenance program. But after 13 weeks, my scans were showing a healthy baby with no signs of being in a washing machine type arrangement.
The second semester started great – with new energy and from what I had read – less risk of miscarriage or less discomfort from cycling (not that there is any real known risk of miscarriage associated with cycling in the first trimester). So I was enjoying my new found life of not being tired until at about week 17 or so I started to get back pain. My instant thought was that this is somehow going to be related to my riding and I’m going to be told by my doctor to give it up. But as it turns out it wasn’t – just ligaments stretching (which many massages from my lovely husband helped with) which stopped after a few weeks and no one was telling me to stop riding. It was quite the opposite as people were happy for me to be still active and strong. One comforting thing about the ride was that my baby always seemed to calm down when I was on my bicycle – I thought this might mean he will like riding in the future – we’ll see. He gave the thumbs up in the ultrasound after I road up the hill to the John Hunter Hospital.
I continued to ride through my second trimester with the only other major hiccup involving waking up in the middle of the night not being able to straighten my knee or put weight on it. I had torn my meniscus (in my knee) during my sleep! It turns out that riding my bicycle was part of the physiotherapy to get it back on track, so as slack as I’ve been with my other exercises it has been getting better (fingers crossed!). So after a couple of days off the bicycle (contemplating whether I should get surgery) I was back on it with a purpose. As I approached my third trimester I noticed it was taking me an extra ten minutes to get to work and by the end I was breathing like I was trying to suck up all the air within a metre of me with each breath.
And now I’m in my third trimester. Things have become very obvious with no hiding the bump behind loose fitting clothes. On buses and trains people no longer have to contemplate whether I just have a large belly or there is an alien like creature in there – they can practically see it moving my belly around. Note: this doesn’t always mean they give up their seat but usually they do. So on my bicycle it’s a similar story, other people on the road can see that I’m pregnant. Most pedestrians and people at bus stops give me lovely welcoming smiles. Some people give me little words of praise for staying so fit, and I don’t know what most people in cars think (you can’t really see them). However, I still get cars doing stupid things on the road and, with the crazy cocktail of hormones that possess me, I often find myself crying for humanity in such situations.
So, cycling while pregnant might not be for everyone but it seems to have worked for me. As much as anything else, it helps me cope psychologically and emotionally with what is happening to me and to the world. It gives me some rhythm both as my feet rotate the pedals and as I get to see the sun (or clouds) everyday and get to move through the streets. I also forget that I’m pregnant when I’m riding (except on the uphills and after long distances). I still find myself riding in a similar position and the extra weight doesn’t bother me as much as when I’m walking, sitting or even lying.
This brings me to my next issue – of raising a child within the urban transport world we face everyday. But perhaps I will leave that for another day … the sun is shining and I should be outside :).