Wednesday, January 28, 2009

bicycling with your baby, before they are born

This is my wife Ashley. I love this picture - it captures one of my favorite things about my wife - her sense of adventure. She wasn't wild about wearing my old helmet, but she was definitely up for a bicycle adventure last memorial day... but I digress.

As I discussed in the previous post, I first wanted to address the variant of bicycling with kids I'm most experienced with, bicycling with them before they are born.

When we found out that Ashley was pregnant - one of the first things Ashley wanted to know was what types of exercise she could still participate in. Ashley was/is a regular runner - but felt nervous about keeping up that type of regimen with an ever expanding belly. We checked with our real life Dr. - but not before we consulted with our favorite Doctor, Dr. Doogie Howser WebMd. Because much of the pregnancy advice out there is anecdotal, we wanted to be sure that we wouldn't risk the health of Junior.

Most doctors say that low impact exercise is the best, and specifically mention bicycling. Bicycling is good on the knees and back, and doesn't bounce your belly around.

Another thing to consider is the heart rate of you or your spouse/partner. Very intense aerobic exercise causes your heart rate to increase - and at certain levels a high heart rate runs the risk of limiting the blood supply to your baby. When bicycling, avoid sprints or long climbing. Bicycling while pregnant should lean toward the recreational side.

That being said, we did embark on a 155 mile trek from Los Angeles to San Diego when Ashley was three months pregnant. The first trimester of pregnancy is widely known as "the exhaustion" phase, and Ashley handled it like a champ. She was a pretty regular rider, so that helped. When we later told our Danish doctor about our bike trip he quipped, "I think its great, so many Americans are afraid to exercise when they get pregnant. That's why there are so many fat people in this country."

Generalizations from Europeans aside - this was a pretty safe thing to do. Bike touring is different from road racing. Touring is relaxed pace riding, stopping frequently for rest, bathroom breaks, eating, exploring, etc. We brought tons of snacks and water. If you are early in your pregnancy - definitely don't take a bicycle tour off the table.

Most doctors and web-experts say that pregnant women should be cautious on bicycles later on in their pregnancy. When the belly gets big, balance becomes an issue. Obviously, balance is the essence of riding a bike. This is a case by case issue of course. We have made a few small trips around the neighborhood, and Ashley is knocking on eight months.

So to recap:
Bicycling when pregnant = YES!
Things to watch out for... heart rate + balance.

Exercise helps with stress, not to mention the fresh air (yes even in LA) can do wonders if you are starting to get cabin fever. I'm hoping Ashley will comment and set me straight if I have misrepresented her in anyway.

Do any of you have experiences with bicycling + pregnancy? If so - please share!


ashley said...

You are pretty right on with this post... Although, I haven't really experienced the unbalanced thing, I am sure it could be an issue. I also wish I had a cruiser at this point because it is somewhat uncomfortable to reach down to the low handlebars on my road bike.

I think the safety issue is significant also. For some reason I am more scared to ride my bike now than I was when I was three months pregnant. Perhaps riding somewhere like a beach path is more suitable than Venice Blvd for me for now.

Dawn D. Lion said...

I biked early in my pregnancy with Maxine, until I visited my midwife. She was kind of old school - had been a midwife for 27 years. Anyway, she told me not to. Her reason was that if you wiped out you could lose the baby.
Well, I followed her orders, but I have known lots of people, including Ashley and my midwife with Ivan, who have done it. So if I could do it again I'd probably not quit biking. It wasn't so much an issue w/ Ivan b/c it was winter in Missouri for most of his. (though I did a whole lot of stationary biking at the gym.)

Dawn D. Lion said...

Oh, I also wanted to add, I think the guideline with hr is not to let it get above 120, if I remember that right.

Ben & Carly said...

This is Carly Syndergaard(i'm married to Ashley's cousin) I appreciate this blog. So what qualifies me to comment on a blog whose author is educationally advanced and experienced? well nothing, I am a mom with three kids who has an unfinished outdoor rec degree and many hours of laundry under her belt. but I do have a passion for biking and have been biking my kids around for the past 6 years. I have to say when it comes to biking while pregnant I try to avoid it after about 7 months. this is not only due to the balance issues but also the closer you get to delivery things start getting uncomfortable down there. (especially the more kids you've had) and that is all I will say about that. My biggest complaint has always been having to wait until my baby was old enough to ride in my trailer. I have tried Mcgyvering a million different ways to stick the carseat in but to no avail. Then just recently I discovered a carrier at Target that is designed for an infant in the trailer. Genius. you probably all ready know about this, I wish I would have three kids ago. I look forward to your future posts, I think you will discover that biking with your kid is one of your greatest has been for me!

Ben & Carly said...

I don't know why I said I saw the carrier at Target, it was at REI. sorry.

david said...

hey carly... thanks for posting! you are the expert.. i'm just an enthusiast!

what is the name of the thing you got at REI? i'd like to see some pictures/reviews.

also - maybe i'll be turning to you for advice. thanks for reading.

Ben & Carly said...

Ok I did a little research on the infant carrier, I had seen it a few months ago online but hadn't looked into it because my baby is already one. when I went back to REI's website they no longer carried it. I was in there today so I stopped at the bike shop to ask about it. apparently it is a bar that attaches to your trailer that allows you to hook your car seat in. He said the picture online was confusing people and for some reason REI had stopped carrying it. He suggested I go directly to the manufactuer of the trailer since each attachment would probably be different for each trailer. I'll let you know if I find out anything more. Now my hippie friend puts her kids in the trailer and her baby in the sling on her front when we go she is biking with one hand in Vegas traffic, this KILLS me. she needs this or I might have to steal her bike or baby until he gets older. I look forward to future posts and would love to chime in with whatever my experience has taught me. Thanks David.

david said...

hey carly - when you find out the name of the attachment, and who makes it, will you let me know? that'd be great.

also - what bike trialer(s) do you have?

david said...

you too dawn