Can Pregnant Women Ride Bikes?



Mar 18, 2022

Now that you are pregnant are you wondering can pregnant women ride bikes? Riding a bike while pregnant is a personal choice, just as riding on the road is a personal choice when not pregnant. It does come with more risk, but if you are a cyclist you already know that.

Please note I am not a doctor and if you have questions about your unique situation please talk to your doctor. This article shares my experience and tips of cycling while pregnant.

Can women cycle while pregnant
Me cycling in Asia before my husband and I had kids

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase. Rest assured all products I suggest are products I have bought or would buy based on personal experience or through my network of other mommas.

Do I Cycle While Pregnant?

I have chosen to cycle during all three of my pregnancies. Cycling is part of who I am and something my husband and I enjoy doing together. Since having kids we have also discovered how to take our toddlers on our bikes with us so we can share what we love with them.

Cycling with toddler bike carrier
Our bike set up now that we have two toddlers

I have always talked with my doctor during my pregnancies and gotten the okay to continue cycling.

I have done a combination of road cycling, spin classes and stationary biking while pregnant. I chose different methods of cycling depending on the weather, my stage in pregnancy and how I was feeling on a particular day.

Overall Benefits of Cycling

cycling bucks county pa roads
Me cycling my local roads

According to Heathline article:

  • A low impact option form of exercise
  • Improves balance, posture and coordination
  • Boosts mental health and brain power
  • May lower cholesterol
  • Strengthens your legs

*These benefits are general benefits to cycling, not specifically related to pregnancy.   

Benefits of Exercise while Pregnant

American Pregnancy Association states the below benefits of exercise while pregnant:

  • Reduces backaches, constipation and bloating
  • Improves mood and energy
  • Promotes muscle tone, strength and endurance
  • May help you sleep better
  • Regular exercise will help you stay fit while pregnant and may help with labor

Of course the American Pregnancy Association notes that if you were physically active before pregnancy it is normally okay to continue, but talk with your doctor. Pregnancy is not the time for big changes.

cycling pregnant for better mood
Cycling pregnant could put both me and my toddler in a better mood!

Personally, I found exercise a great way to boost my mood. When pregnant your hormones are all over the place and exercise was a way to grab a hold of yourself. An hour out on the bike would do wonders for my point of view. 

10 Tips for Cycling while Pregnant

1. Pay attention to your balance:

Pregnancy affects your balance, especially later in pregnancy.  For this reason I personally chose to stop road rides before I hit my third trimester.  I do not want to take chances when I know my center of gravity is off.

Into my third trimester I would cycle on my stationary bike set up at home, or at a spin class at the gym. 

can pregnant women ride bike: turbo trainer
My indoor bike set-up

For my home set up I have a Kinetic Road Machine Trainer. This trainer allows me to connect one of my bikes to it and I am set for my indoor stationary cycling. Since I already owned the bikes a trainer made the most sense. No point in buying a whole stationary bike.

2. Listen to your body and don't overdo it:

Cycling is not as impactful as running is, but your body is still working. If you overdo it and cycle for longer than your body is used to you will feel it later in the day in exhaustion and muscle fatigue. 

Your body is already doing remarkable things by creating a new being, when you overdo while exercising it may take longer to recover. The best thing to do is to cut your rides shorter or ride at a slower pace than pre-pregnancy rides. 

If you are attending a spin class it is okay to not go full out when the instructor tells the class to push it. If you are concerned that the teacher will push you, let him or her know ahead of time that you are pregnant.

can you cycle while pregnant first trimester
First trimester cycling with my toddler to the park

With my third pregnancy I would cycle with my toddler on the back of my road bike with our **Hamax Rear Child Bike Seat.**My husband and I would both take a child and we would cycle to the local farm where the kids could play. The hill to get to the farm was harder while pregnant and I had to take it easy. I didn’t stop cycling with my toddler, but I did slow down. 

3. The type of bike you ride while pregnant may change:

If you are used to riding an aggressive road bike, where the handlebars are drops this might not be your favorite bike while pregnant. Once my stomach started growing I felt uncomfortable having to lean over my belly to be in my previous cycling position.

I found my cross-bike, which still has drop handlebars, but at a more upright position to be more comfortable. 

As my belly grew I favored bikes with more upright handlebars. Cycling in my third trimester required a more upright position or cycling/spinning wasn’t going to happen.

4. Always let someone know you are out cycling and bring a phone:

Just in case something were to happen you should make sure someone knows where you are going. Also bringing your cell phone should be a given, not only while pregnant but especially while pregnant. 

Better yet, cycling with someone else is always safest. This might not always be possible and I did ride alone at times, but I tried to go out with my husband when possible. 

5. Always use the restroom before hopping on your bike when pregnant:

Pregnancy is notorious for always feeling like you have to pee. I won’t guarantee just because you went before you got on the bike you won’t have to go again in 5 minutes, but all we can do is try.  

Plan your routes when you cycle outside and think through different bathroom options. A nice cafe stop or a public restroom at a park might become your best friend.

6. Bring lots of water:

I’m sure your doctor has already gone over that when you are pregnant you need to drink more water. So make sure you take more than you would have brought before becoming pregnant. 

7. Plan your route carefully:

If you choose to cycle outside make a plan. I use RideWithGPS to map out my rides and load it onto the Garmin device on my bike. This ensures I do not get lost or end up on roads I don’t want to be on. I stay away from busy roads and roads with sharp gradients. 

When pregnant I pick routes where the gradient stays below 10%. Hills tire me out more while pregnant and I do not want to overdo it. I also select roads that I know are quiet country roads. I do not live in a city so this is not a challenge for me. 

8. Wear appropriate cycling clothes:

I know there are not a lot of maternity cycling clothes available. In the first half of pregnancy most of my cycling gear still fits, just sometimes I had to swap out my jersey for a larger workout shirt or maternity tank. 

can pregnant women ride bikes- second trimester
Cycling during my second trimester on quiet country roads

My cycling bib shorts or pants were critical while cycling, either pregnant or not. Pregnancy is not the time to give up the cushioned bibs, they are more comfortable to wear and you will feel the difference if you forget to wear them. 

I recommend wearing them when riding outside or spinning inside. Your lady parts will be more happy.

9. Get rid of the detailed training plan:

If you are like me I normally have fitness plans, such as cycle 200 miles a week or run 5k under 25 minutes. To feel like I wasn't pushing myself while pregnant I had to get away from that mindframe. I had to be okay with what my body could handle at each stage of my pregnancy and not try to increase mileage or speed.

It can be hard. When you spend so many years trying to hit goals, stepping away from them is difficult. Instead, I tried to replace these quantity goals with soft goals of getting some form of exercise most days. Therefore as long as I did some exercise I was achieving my internal goals, no matter the speed or distance.

10. Check the weather before heading out:

If you are planning on cycling outside make sure you check the weather. If it is going to rain hard it might not be the best time to cycle, as the roads could be slick. If the temperatures are dropping to below freezing, think about the potential of ice on the roads. Maybe it is best to ride your stationary bike that day. 

When riding outside you should always be aware of weather so you can plan accordingly, dress appropriately or move your ride to another day or choose an inside option. 

I hope this article has helped you answer can pregnant women ride bikes. If you choice to ride while pregnant good luck and stay safe!

Conclusions of Riding While Pregnant

It is 100% doable as long as your doctor agrees! There are many benefits of cycling while pregnant with my personal favorite; it just makes me a happier human being!

I would not have felt like myself if I couldn’t have cycled during my entire pregnancy. I also ran and swam during my pregnancies because staying active is part of who I am. You can read my personal tips on working out while pregnant.

Once you have your little babe check out best bike seats for babies and toddlers!

Curious about hiking while pregnant, read my article on 11 tips for hiking while pregnant.