Cycling during pregnancy or “Are childbearing cyclists more prone to accidents?”

By Spinning Mum:

Okay, I have to admit it… The pregnancy fairy magically transformed me into a gym bunny and while I have not been seen on the roads around Lower Austria within the last six weeks or so, I have not entirely given up on cycling, yet. As I am writing this article, I am 24 weeks (6 months) along and though the spinning classes I am usually joining three times a week don’t actually make up for the smooth asphalt, steep hills and scenic views, I am currently feeling much safer on the stationary bike.

However, indoor training is not a good cure for getting green with envy when I see other riders fighting their way through the hilly woods. Not mentioning what happens every time Kai leaves the house with his beloved Cérvelo or when I am flipping through Tour magazine…

That is why I started wondering whether it is really necessary to let Julie collect dust in the garage for the weeks to come and started some research about cycling during pregnancy.

As mentioned in my previous post about exercising during gestation opinions about outdoor cycling differ tremendously and though most medical practitioners and trainers agree that cycling in general is a great way to keep fit whilst easing strain on ankles and knee joints, the biggest concern they share is the risk of falling.

Aha, this is right what I was worrying about when I decided to change my routine in week 17 though nobody actually ever told me to stay off the road. So, let’s dig a bit further here…

According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) biking is a great low-impact sport and usually safe during a low-risk pregnancy – even for novices. Yet the ACOG suggests that beginners should rather stick to stationary cycling in order to minimise the risk of potential injuries to mother and baby.

They also recommend that even experienced riders should rather change their training to a static bike from their 2nd trimester onwards as their growing bellies might influence their balance. Furthermore, they point out that the bony structure around the pelvis does not protect the baby after the 12th week of pregnancy, so that little belly dwellers could be seriously harmed in a crash.

Okay. That makes me feel a lot better about not investing in warm bike wear this winter, but…

On the other hand I tend to believe that going on foot or by car can also bear its hazards when it comes to traffic related casualties and unless childbearing cyclists are more prone to accidents than their non-bumpy co-riders, the benefits I mentioned in my previous post might still outweigh the risks unless you are a Kamikaze rider.

For sure it is common sense that you should avoid bumpy off-road tracks or busy streets and refrain from racing or training in a pack but a moderate defensive training session on dry roads with only little traffic should still be fine, shouldn’t it?

Well now what to do?

It’s not an easy choice, but personally I think, I will stick to the spinning bike and static trainer for the last stretch of my pregnancy. Despite the fact that I came across articles claiming that most falls won’t affect the unborn and (knock on wood) I have not been kissing the asphalt so far, I do not want to push my luck.

Moreover I am simply not cycling as much as some of the pro riders who literally rode their racers to the labour ward and who probably have much more experience when it comes to handling dicey situations.

Thus, my dear Julie, I will see you in March and hope you will not give me sad looks whenever I enter the garage.