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!