Staying active through pregnancy has many health benefits for both mum to be and baby. I recently had my little girl and wanted to share with you my top tips for an active pregnancy. I believe staying active not only helped with the physical demands of labour but also the mental resilience needed for labour and beyond as a new mum.
When I found out I was pregnant I felt every emotion under the sun. It was amazing happy news, but I had a little bit of worry in the back of my mind, how would this effect my ability to ride my mountain bike?
As a passionate cyclist and cycling coach, cycling is in my blood, it is what makes me who I am. So the idea of having to ‘give up’ a part of me was a struggle.
When we started telling people we were having a baby most people’s first comments where “when are you ging to stop riding” or “you may as well sell all your bikes you won’t have time to ride anymore.”
Luckily, both these statements turned out not to be true.
I continued to ride my bike until I was 38 weeks pregnant, all be it slower and not as far. The distance and speed didn’t matter, I got the mental and physical benefits of getting outdoors in nature doing the sport I love.
There is a misconception about needing to ‘give up’ exercise when you are pregnant, this simply isn’t true. If you have been fit and healthy before falling pregnant and have no contraindications to exercise (speak with your midwife), then most sport and exercise is fine to continue, just listen to your body.
According to the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology pregnant women should aim to get at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week. Studies have shown that staying active whilst pregnant reduces your chance of gestational diabetes. Also staying strong is going to put you in good stead for labour which is hard work!
My top tips for staying active during pregnancy:
- Eat and drink properly, keeping your energy stores topped up is crucial whilst pregnant and when your baby arrives too! I found dates, Torq flapjacks, bananas, and jelly babies where all good energy snacks whilst riding.
- Be realistic about your goals, depending on how far you rode/ran pre pregnancy will depend what you can do whilst pregnant, be realistic and just enjoy the fresh air.
- Listen to your body, it will tell you when its had enough, this isn’t a time to push through, stop.
- Cycling is great as its non-load bearing, you don’t feel as ‘heavy’ when your bump gets bigger as you do walking and running.
- Adapt your bike to be more upright. Increasing the height of the handlebars or shortening the stem. I also got a new women’s specific saddle from specialized.
- Pilates! Not only did my background in Pilates help me stay strong for riding, but my pelvic floor was also well looked after and during labour I used my breathing techniques to help with the contractions.
- Swimming is magical when pregnant when you feel big and heavy on land, water is weightless, and you suddenly feel able to move freely.
- Try and keep wearing decent bib shorts, I wore Ale bib shorts pre pregnancy and just went up a size for my third trimester I also nicked my other half’s!
- If you love cycling but feel worried about going outside Zwift do pregnancy safe workouts so you can stick the bike on the turbo trainer and continue to stay fit and healthy
- Above all enjoy the experience of growing a tiny human, we are very lucky to get this opportunity and although it is tiring and uncomfortable at times the end result is well worth it!
I hope you found these tips useful, please do let me know how your pregnancy journey is going and come and try my new on demand Pilates for pregnancy and beyond!Favorite