Getting exercise during pregnancy can help boost your mood and energy, prevent muscle pain and make it easier to sleep. If biking is your activity of choice, you can rest assured that it is generally safe during your first trimester, says the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. If you take commonsense safety precautions and avoid doing anything that exceeds your training or experience on a bike, you should be good to go for now.
The First Trimester
The first trimester is a period of rapid fetal development. In her book, "What's Going On In There?" neurologist Lise Eliot says that many developmental delays and birth defects are the result of problems that occur during the first trimester. A major fall can be dangerous for both you and your baby, and taking a spill is the primary risk of cycling. The good news is that your body doesn't expand as rapidly in the first trimester as it does later in pregnancy, so balance is not as much of an issue in those early months. Good balance reduces the risk of a biking fall.
Benefits of Cycling
Cycling is a form of cardiovascular exercise, which means it can keep your heart healthy and help you burn off excess fat. During pregnancy, the benefits of exercise are even greater, as it can help you avoid serious complications such as gestational diabetes, says ACOG. Staying active helps you avoid excess weight gain and can make it easier to lose that baby weight post-pregnancy.
Risks of Cycling
Pregnant women frequently get long lists of activities they have to avoid; keep in mind that nothing you do is completely without risk. If you fall while you're cycling, you could hit your head and injure yourself, and a blow to your abdomen could potentially harm your baby. There's also a very slight risk of of oxygen deprivation to the baby if you severely overexert yourself, but as long as you're exercising at a healthy pace and not overdoing it, your baby will have plenty of oxygen, says ACOG.
Proper Safety Precautions
If you want to cycle in a way that minimizes risk, try a stationary bike. If a stationary bike seems too monotonous, take commonsense precautions such as wearing a helmet and not cycling outside of your comfort zone. If you're an expert rider, you don't have to change anything about your routine, but if you're a novice, you may want to stick to even terrain and avoid tricks such as jumps or high-speed hill riding. No matter your skill level, it's a good idea to take your cell phone with you in the unlikely event of an accident. Cycling with a friend can make your workout more fun, and ensures you have company if you get into an accident or otherwise need help.
Contraindications to Cycling
Even if you cycle indoors on a stationary bike, you should avoid exercise if you have certain conditions. Cardiovascular disease, restrictive lung disease or an incompetent cervix can make exercise dangerous for you and your baby. If there are problems with your placenta, get your doctor's go-ahead first, and if you are overweight or have never exercised, you'll need to ask your doctor before you begin cycling. Similarly, if you experience dizziness, abdominal pain, vaginal bleeding or contractions at any point during your pregnancy -- including while cycling -- call your doctor, and avoid exercising until you get medical clearance.
- What's Going On In There?; Lise Eliot
- The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: Exercise During Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period
- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: Exercise During Pregnancy
- BabyCenter: Pregnancy Exercise for Beginners
- Bike Portland: Biking With a Bump -- Should You Ride While Pregnant?
- Family Education: First Trimester Basics