Sunday, 13 May 2012

You're STILL riding?

My cycling year got off to a slow start after a Christmas skiing accident left me on crutches with a torn thigh muscle. Rats. I gradually worked my way back to fitness only to then find (happily) that I was pregnant.

I consulted my GP, who said road cycling was fine up to about six months, after which time I might find myself having problems with balance, so the boyf (also a keen cyclist) agreed happily for life to continue as normal with me cycling to work.

On announcing our news to family, colleagues and friends, however, there's been a general reaction of :
"Congratulations. I take it you're not cycling any more?"
"No, I'm still cycling."
[face of horror]
"But you could get knocked off. And kill the baby"
Sigh. I try to explain that me keeping fit is important. And non-weight bearing exercise is good. And cycling (even in London) doesn't necessarily mean you will be knocked off and/or killed. But suddenly everyone has an opinion and everyone thinks I'm wrong. I find it exhausting (and somewhat annoying) to have to defend our decision on a daily basis. Surely if both parents and the doctor believe it to be a reasonable risk, it's fine? Not to mention the fact that plenty of pregnant women in other countries continue to cycle, like these gorgeous ladies from Denmark.

(photo by Mikael Colville-Andersen)

I am mindful of the dangers of London roads and, now that the bean is a bit bigger and I am a bit slower, I have taken to cycling on the towpath, rather than the South Circular, but I remain a militantly enthusiastic cyclist, defending my right to :
 a) get around London in reasonably prompt fashion
 b) not to feel sick when I get there after hot and smelly train carriages

Apparently this makes me a reckless and selfish woman though. So did you / would you cycle when you were pregnant?  Or would you head to the swimming pool instead?


maryka said...

I've written an entire blog about this! As a racing cyclist, I wasn't about to stop cycling when I got pregnant and in fact continued to do group rides on my road bike until about 8 months and solo rides after that when I was too slow to ride with others. Rode on my actual due date then decided to finally give it up as it was just too uncomfortable with all that baby stuck under my ribs. Went into labour that night and was back on the bike 2 weeks later so...

I can tell you that my baby was born (and still is) amazingly strong and healthy, and despite a long and arduous labour she was never in distress. I recovered quickly from the EMCS I ended up having to get and I credit that to staying fit and cycling so much during pregnancy.

My blog is here, in particular this entry which has some good links about exercise in pregnancy. Otherwise just ignore the idiots who have no idea what they're talking about. Only YOU know YOUR body and it's up to YOU to manage it appropriately in pregnancy and do what YOU feel is right for yourself and your baby.

Oh yeah, and this is just the beginning of the "public" side of motherhood, get used to being judged about every little thing you do for the rest of your life. ;)

And congrats!

Minx said...

Congratulations! I rode until I was about six months pregnant- until my knees kept hitting the bump anyway! You might want to switch to flat bars and a more upright position - I know someone who went from road bike to hybrid to a Brompton in her quest to stay comfortable as she got bigger!

Anonymous said...

The correct response I learned from a lady friend of mine is "Oh F@#k off! I'm having a f@#king baby, I've not suddenly been turned to f@#king glass"

I gather she came to this after one too many "concerned" remarks such as you recount, and found it very effective at stopping the conversation.

Anonymous said...

Did Josie Dew ever stop riding? I very much doubt it....keep on riding :)

Livvy said...

Thanks Maryka for the vote of confidence - good for you on the club runs! That's very impressive. I have much lesser ambitions which is why I get so cross when people tell me I shouldn't even do that. GRR.

Thank you too, Minx and I may end up switching to an easier bike as I get bigger but the women in my family have such long torsos we don't seem to get enormous bumps (thankfully) so hoping it'll be ok for a while.

LOVING that advice, Anonymous, that's BRILLIANT.

And re Josie Dew, that's a great thought "what would Josie do?"!

Anonymous said...

Yay! I think this is awesome :)

I to had to deal with all of the negative comments from people when I cycled cross country until 4 months and road riding - including the etape caledonia route, rides with another pregnant friend and regular commuting. I cycled until I was knocked off my bike at 25 weeks when a driver opened their door without looking breaking my collarbone. The implication that I should never have been riding really wound me up. We were riding along just fine and happy until an external force stopped us - a force, which might I add, wasn't my or my soon to be daughters fault. It could have happened to anyone, it was just unfortunate that it was us.

After this incident, all of my nay sayers felt vindicated as they had been telling me that it was dangerous. What I continued to tell them was that cycling itself is great for people and carries way more benefits than risks. Being a fit, healthy woman with an active lifestyle is good for the mother and good for the baby.

If/when I get pregnant again, I will definitely ride my bike in the same way I always do until I feel uncomfortable doing so.

I think it has to be remembered that the same people saying it is dangerous are likely the same people who are preparing themselves to die early from of all of the diseases associated with a sedentary lifestyle :)

jac said...


Please keep us posted on how things go and prove those nay sayers wrong!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! I would definitely carry on cycing.

I went skiing when pregnant (I hadn't yet discovered cycling), with the approval of two doctors and my husband, but still came in for a lot of stick from well-meaning nosies, who thought they knew better than all of us.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but only the people concerned are entitled to the decision.

Enjoy many months of happy and safe cycling!