What I Learned While Cycling Pregnant

From Ruxandra Looft’s interview series on cycling while pregnant, here are just some of the things that other cycling mothers-to-be had to say.

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What I noticed most while cycling pregnant was the need to slow down, drink lots of water, and stay flexible with my route and mileage. Some days I felt great, while some days I needed to go much slower and take more breaks. But I never lost my sense of balance and could always count on a bike ride to make me feel better – both mentally and physically. I’m glad I never gave that up and that I found a community of women equally passionate about their health, ­fitness, and regular bike rides.

From my interview series on cycling while pregnant, here are just some of the things that other cycling mothers-to-be had to say on the subject:

Amber Dallman in St. Paul, MN.

“Our set-up for most of my pregnancy was to bike to daycare and work – I’d have a 30-plus-pound (13.6 kilograms) toddler in tow in a trailer for the ­first two miles (3.2 kilometers). As this became increasingly more di‑ cult 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 to buy.”

Jaime Bruner in San Francisco, CA.

“I kept expecting at some point to find that it would be uncomfortable to bike, especially since my bike is not an upright step through, but I never reached that point. I even biked the day I went into labor, at 41 weeks.”

Bojana Kolbah in Ottawa, ON.

“Most of my cycling involved me taking the kids to daycare or shopping, so in addition to being pregnant, I had two kids on the bike with me. I would not have been able to do this if I did not have the appropriate bike (step through, small wheels, very slow and steady). I was also very careful about the routes I took and did a lot of planning ahead of going out. During the last few weeks leading up to my due date, I would bike with only one kid at a time and no kids once I was a week away.”

Melissa Brown in St. Louis, MO.

“My husband, who also bikes, was very supportive. Since cycling for transportation was so much a part of my lifestyle already, I made my intentions to cycle throughout the pregnancy pretty clear from the beginning. Perhaps because of this, I did not hear anything negative from family or friends. I always wondered what strangers were thinking, especially toward the end, and I kept expecting to have to defend my decisions, but those situations never materialized.”

Bobbie Jennings in Ames, IA.

“I found out I was pregnant in December, and I was de­finitely wary of biking at the beginning because of the road conditions. I had to reduce how much I was biking over the course of our (very long) winter, so by the time I was able to bike on a regular basis again I was already ­five months pregnant. Since I also have to cart my 27-pound (12.2 kilogram) son on regular trips, I try to make sure our trips aren’t too long or strenuous. I usually try to make sure we stop along the way if I need to. Although most of our rides are no more than ­five miles (eight kilometers) round-trip, taking breaks makes all the difference.”

Ruxandra Looft is a writer, lecturer, and pregnant cyclist living in Ames, IA. You can find more of her “Cycling While Pregnant” interview series at simplybikeblog.com. @SimplyBike


  • Elizabeth

    Thank you for talking about pregnant cycling! In 2009 I commuted to work on my bike until I was about 36 weeks pregnant with my second son. Like many of you, I wasn’t trying to prove anything, I was just living my life. Here’s what I learned: 1. it’s helpful to be a mechanic or be married to a mechanic so adjustments can be made to your bike as your riding position changes. My handy husband actually built a new bike for me out of parts we had laying around and a cheap old frame. It was perfect for the upright position I needed late in my pregnancy. After my son was born we gave it away. And 2. It helps to be outgoing and friendly. A lot of people are going to want to talk with you about the pregnant/bicycle situation which is not computing in their brain. Many (at least in my uber-bike-friendly town) are happily stunned, but some just gawk. In any case, a friendly smile and wave is typically a good response. Ride on, sisters!

  • Serena

    Rode throughout my entire pregnancy and can’t echo enough what was already said. I rode until the day before I had my son. It never became uncomfortable albeit a little slower ;). Frankly riding my bike was when I was the most comfortable during my pregnancy.
    Have to agree with Jane’s comment that the biggest problem was being off the bike for 6 weeks after delivering. I missed it so much.

  • Jane Healy

    I agree with Ms. Bruner: I biked throughout my 3rd pregnancy. I kept expecting to find a time when it was too uncomfortable or difficult, but that day never came. I even rode to all of my prenatal doctor’s appointments. My daily commute was two 8 mile trips each day, towing 2 older children to and from school in a trailer. The trailer plus kids weighed well over 100 lbs but I rode throughout the winter, up and down hills, etc. with no problems. I use the same standard hybrid now that I did then, 10 years later (without a step through frame).

    My labor and delivery were amazingly easy, with no pain meds and despite my daughter’s enormous size of 10lbs 8 oz and 23 inches in length! I attribute her health–as well as mine–to the fact that I was getting excellent exercise throughout the entire gestational process.

    The biggest challenges?
    Surprise! They weren’t during pregnancy. Having to wait several weeks after Genevieve’s birth to be able to ride again was a big let down. I had her in a bucket style “car” seat in the trailer by 6 weeks of age. The second challenge: not being able to fit more than one child in said trailer due to the car seat… By 6 months, I was able to ditch the bucket seat and get back to commuting with two kids in the trailer (the 4 yr old and the baby). At this point, the 6 year old could ride his own bike to school each day.

    To my mind, the biggest deterrent to women cycling is having to deal with navigating with children. It’s almost impossible to tow/carry more than two children unless you have access to (and can afford) a box bike. I’ve been heartened by some of the new bike designs in the past couple of years like the Yuba Mundo, Xtracycle, etc. that give a savvy cyclist parent some options. I didn’t have those choices available to me, but was able to make do with jury-rigged accommodations.

    Small kids don’t handle traffic well. They lack the ability and experience to analyze speed, predict driver behavior, anticipate stopping distance, etc. This makes it hard to commute in traffic when you are riding with small kids until they are about 8 or 9 years of age, when brain development allows them to start to process situations using critical thinking skills. Having your child attached to you via a trail-a-bike, box bike, long tail, trailer or what-have-you is a good solution.

    • Elizabeth

      So true. We’ve had a bakfiets since my second was 6 months old (5 years) and I dream of a day when these life-changing bicycles are available to all mothers. Your list of reasons why a child riding his/her own bike isn’t a practical solution is great. I’m always amazed by how many people suggest this as a “solution”. Have they ever actually tried it?
      Have you checked out Virtue Cycles? They are selling a bakfiets for around $1000, electric assist for a few hundred more. I have no experience with them, but it might be worth looking into.

  • Sara

    What a lovely article. I gave up cycling at 33 weeks pregnant as I was having difficulty getting my knees up high enough – my bump was in the way! Good luck to you all with your forthcoming event!

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