Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Bicycle commuting with a baby bump

Chad and I are expecting our first baby in August, which we are over the moon about. I am 25 weeks pregnant this week, and so far I'm still riding my bike.

I go quite a bit more slowly than usual, and I listen to my body.  I'm also finding that my personal safety bubble is hyper-inflated, probably the beginning of my mama-bear protective instincts kicking in. I am way more nervous in traffic than usual, and I haven't enjoyed riding in the rain due to fear that someone won't see me. So, I ride on fair-weather days only, and I've modified my typical route a bit to take advantage of greenways and bike paths, as I feel most safe and more at peace when I'm not encountering as much traffic.

I have also had to plan less hilly routes, because this little babe is pressing up against my lungs and diaphragm, which makes it hard to breathe while climbing. My current route involves riding from downtown Seattle through the International District, where I hop on the SODO bike path. At the end of the path, I get on light rail just one stop, to Beacon Hill. The elevators do all of the hard work for me, and I emerge from the station at the top of the hill, right on to the new Beacon Hill greenway, a peaceful, more slow-paced alternative to biking along Beacon Avenue South.

The greenway connects to Jefferson Park (with great bike infrastructure, as noted below!), where I can hop on any number of meandering bike paths.

Being out of traffic allows me to slow down and spend a little more time taking in the amazing scenery from Jefferson Park. The park is always full of children playing soccer, skateboarding, playing on the play equipment, all kinds of fun kid stuff.

 I'm really enjoying getting to know this park, a place I've ridden past countless times in my more direct pre-pregnancy route, but have not bothered to discover. I love this exploratory element of pregnancy- my slower pace really encourages exploration and discovery, and it's nice to be liberated from a need to pedal fast. Seeing all of these happy children also lets me daydream about a time in the not-too-distant future when I'll be enjoying these activities with my daughter. I am so stoked about that!

From Jefferson Park, it's a few short blocks to the start of the Chief Sealth trail, one of my favorite bike routes in the entire city. Mt. Rainier makes appearances at many points along the way, and the trail is always activated with a ton of children, families and dog walkers. It seems to be a particularly popular place to learn to ride a bike, actually, judging by the many young riders with training wheels I regularly see on the trail.

The Chief Sealth trail terminates right near my front door, a lovely little luxury of our neighborhood. I'm grateful to live close to this wonderful amenity, and grateful that it has allowed me to keep commuting this far into my pregnancy. It is critical to have a little bit of built-in exercise, and the endorphins are good for my mood and mental health (my husband agrees- I am much less crabby and hormonal when I ride!).

Here are a few tips for mamas-to be who are interested in riding during pregnancy: 

1) Consult with your midwife or OB-GYN to make sure you're healthy enough to ride and there are no risk factors with your pregnancy that might be affected by cycling.
2) Listen to your body. Go slowly up hills, give yourself permission to walk if you need to. Take frequent brakes and don't be afraid to shorten your trips as your pregnancy progresses.
2) Modify your route to avoid traffic and hills, especially as you progress later in the pregnancy. Utilize buses or light rail combos with your bike.
3) Consider some upright handlebars or a taller stem to make room for your growing belly.
4) Wear bike shorts with a chamois (padding) if you typically don't- it will make you more comfortable as you gain a little bit of baby weight. 
5) Pay attention to your balance. If you feel that your balance is affected by your belly, consider taking a break until after pregnancy (or use a trainer instead of riding outside- you don't want to risk falling!). 
6) Do a little bit of prenatal yoga if you are prone to hip joint or SI joint pain. Yoga is a great counter-balance to cycling. There are great prenatal yoga classes at Aditi Yoga in Seattle or online at
7) Stop riding when it's not enjoyable anymore! Your bike will be there after you give birth.


Arleigh Jenkins said...

I'm so excited for you and to watch how you progress!

Megbikes said...

Thanks Arleigh! So far so good!