Looking back… Cycling mama: Simply Bike

As I embark on my own journey to motherhood, where I see my bike playing a big part throughout these 9 months (6 months left to go now), I scrolled back on my own blog for memories of discussing cycling while pregnant and how could I forget…

…the brilliant guest post by S. Of Simply Bike when she was expecting C., her first baby. She’s gone to have a gorgeous second baby too. Her blog is still a favourite of mine and I’ve been rereading it now with refreshed interest :-)

Here’s that original blog post (my intro now makes me smile!), reported in full, she and I wrote here back in 2011!

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In the past I wrote about how, one day, in theory, I would like to think that I will be able to cycle through my pregnancy, but also how the present cycling conditions and drivers’ aggressive attitude may put me off… how sad would that be if that was the case? I love cycling, I’d like to think that the system would support me and even encourage me to keep fit and stay active! But that’s for another post! I also found that a fair few people (women perhaps?) find this blog by searching “cycling while pregnant”, so perhaps it’s not just me wondering about the feasibility of cycling while pregnant?

Often, I realise that we fear things more than the actual level of danger. Plus I am a ‘glass half full’ kinda of person, so I prefer thinking in positive terms. These past few months, more than ever, I have enjoyed reading SimplyBike experience of cycling while pregnant. Her positive, calm and uplifting posts on cycling with her growing belly spurred me to ask her whether she would like to write a guest post for this little blog.

And how delighted was I when she said yes! So without further ado here’s her lovely contribution!

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Hi, my name is S. and I bike at Simply Bike, where I have been chronicling my experiences of cycling while pregnant over the last nine months. It’s been a topic that I’ve thought a lot about over the past year and one I’m happy to discuss with others interested in staying fit and keeping with their bike over the course of pregnancy. So thank you, LC, for inviting me to share my thoughts on this topic here!

37 weeks

You have now come nearly to the end of your pregnancy and are expecting baby C any time now. How did you find cycling through this period?

 I’ve really enjoyed having my bike over these past months; it’s kept me fit and sane. I was pretty active before getting pregnant and many of my pre-pregnancy activities didn’t last for too long into the pregnancy (such as running). But cycling was something that I could continue to do and modify to fit each stage of my pregnancy. I gradually decreased the distances I travel, I slowed down, and now at the end, I only ride my upright vintage Raleigh that gives me the most comfortable sitting position with my big belly.

The bike supports my weight and my legs do most of the work pedaling and so I’ve found that on many occasions biking is less tiring than walking or going up a flight of stairs. (Stairs, now there’s a challenge!)

Did you have any initial worries about cycling while pregnant and dealing with traffic? How did you overcome them, or was it a natural progression of your cycling experience?

From the moment I learned that I was pregnant, I became more sensitive and alert to everything in my environment. My dog jumping up on my and greeting me at the door, crossing the street, getting in a car for a drive… it was hard to put this little being inside of me out of my mind for any given activity. So in that sense, riding my bike was no different. I just became extra vigilant about looking out for cars, making sure to signal my turns, being careful and watching for obstacles, and taking all the necessary steps to ensuring a safe ride.

Fortunately for me, I live in a small college town and can get around by using mostly quiet neighborhood streets and not very busy roads. Even when these add a bit of distance to my commute, these days I opt for quiet and car-free as much as possible over quick and efficient. I would definitely recommend taking the longer but safer route as a way to feel more at ease when biking with a baby belly.

36 weeks

Did you find that drivers on the road were more respectful and conscientious when they saw you cycling ‘for two’?

To be honest, I have no idea. I do get the occasional nod and smile from drivers or from other cyclists and I’ve had some encounters that suggest the opposite as well. Overall, I just assume that drivers don’t notice my belly and ride as defensively as possible, always looking out for myself.

Have you enjoyed cycling while pregnant? Has it been a different experience from cycling ‘sans’ baby belly?

 It is definitely different in that I tire much easier, I can’t go as far or as fast, and it’s limited the kind of bike events that my husband and I would have liked to participate in this summer. But until the last couple of months, the belly hasn’t been all that noticeable and I’ve really enjoyed getting on a bike still as it’s so familiar to me. While everything else about my body and my routine has changed, this was one constant that I could turn to, one thing that still made me feel like ‘me’.

What advice would you give to a fellow pregnant friend, who would like to carry on cycling while expecting her baby?

Everyone’s pregnancy and body is different. The first two pieces of advice I’d have are 1) check with your health care provider to make sure they ‘ok’ the activity and 2) listen to your body! Only do what feels good. I was convinced that I would keep running throughout my pregnancy because I was such a committed runner pre-pregnancy. But running was the first thing to go, it simply didn’t feel good anymore. Cycling kept feeling good and being enjoyable and so I just kept making adjustments to my pace and mileage but never felt the need to stop.

32 weeks

Lastly, I’d encourage her to stay fit and active as it makes for a much easier labor (any medical professional will confirm this) and it’s such a psychological boost as well. Whether you bike, take a walk, go on a swim… learning to stay active with your growing belly in tow will make the whole 9 months much more manageable and will hopefully help with the birth and recovery as well.

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Thank you so much S for sharing with us your experience of being a cycling soon-to-be-mum! All the best for these final few moments waiting for the arrival of your baby!

All photography (c)SimplyBike – you can find her flickr stream here

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