Pregnant, still a cyclist.
Juli is a passionate cyclist and triathlete. And she is 9-months pregnant. In this blog post, she shares why cycling through pregnancy has been essential to her physical and mental well-being – and why every female cyclist should listen to her own body.
I am not sick, I am pregnant. I have used this phrase many many times these last couple of months. Even though the number of female cyclists is increasing in our beloved sport, the industry and poorly also the society are still far behind when it comes to women cycling. That’s why I have to explain myself every time someone sees me and my baby belly in my cycling kit.
Cycling is also about self-care
I am an active person. I have always been active. Activity for me is not just a physical thing. Mentally any kind of activity helps me to cope with the daily struggles of life. Whether it is work, a partnership or life itself, it doesn’t matter. The moment I sit on my bike I can almost feel how the stress level decreases while my endorphin level increases. Yes – even on those mean and challenging hills or mountains. In the end we grow the most outside of our comfort zone. As the level of exhaustion increases on the bike, our level of happiness and satisfaction does, too (at least often enough;-)). This not only applies for a better physical resilience but mentally, too. Without a doubt I think that this is one of the reasons why the female cycling community is growing. More and more women cyclists are beginning to understand, that they have to care for themselves in order to be able to care for something or someone else. This kind of holistic approach leads to an overall better life.
Why stop doing what I love when I am about to experience the biggest change of my life?
And all of this does not change because I am pregnant. I am still me. I don’t suddenly stop to love cycling or being active. So why should I stop doing what I love and what helps me overcome the daily challenges of life, when I am about to experience the biggest change a human being can experience? The truth is: I should not. And I didn’t.
Some days are harder, but that’s how it is. Just take one day after another. Through our entire lives, people tell us that exercising is key for a holistic healthy lifestyle. Whether this means yoga classes, bike rides or running - either will keep you healthy and prevent diseases. This does not change during pregnancy. According to many studies, exercising while pregnant can improve your mood, lets you sleep better, can lead to an easier labor and a quicker recovery. Don’t get me wrong, I am not talking about new PB’s or increasing my FTP, no. I am talking about a moderate-intensity activity. This may look different for each female cyclist. My journey does not have to be yours. My personal “good” is taking the bike and going outside or train on the trainer in the basement at home. What changed during pregnancy were the types of bikes I rode. But I am still cycling. And I am feeling good.
Your body tells you when it becomes too much
The first trimester can be challenging for a pregnant woman because you can feel sick or fatigue. Luckily, I did not have to fight nausea or an unbearable level of tiredness. At the beginning I took my road bike as I always did. I just had to adjust the distances and the hours on my bike. But the cool thing about the female body is, that it will tell you if it is too much. Each and every one of us is different and will feel different. What happened is that my mood got better and I felt less tired. I kept on using the road bike as long as it felt good to ride on it. The belly is not in your way during this first trimester. It’ll start to grow in the second trimester. When my belly started to grow, I felt the urge to change to a cross bike. My position on the cross bike is a little straighter than on the race bike. I also swapped the road for the woods. I just felt like it.
With my growing belly, I was facing a different problem. Usually cycling kits are tight and aerodynamic to save some watts. My kit would start not to fit anymore. Thanks to veloine.cc, I have a cycling kit that not just fits my belly but also “grows” with my belly.* I am now in the third trimester and on the trainer in my cellar. I am down to riding on my trainer indoor because I am pregnant during winter season. I could have had some more outdoor loops if it wasn’t for the cold. Now I know that still cycling - even if it is just for 20 min - helps me to sleep better. As getting some sleep gets harder when the little human starts his own activities in your belly. A certain level of exhaustion helps. Women cycling will improve so much with this kit*, as it provides pregnant cyclists the opportunity to ride as long as it feels good and eases the way back post-partum, as I am not starting from a 10-month break.
At the end, the individual health of the mother to be should be the main factor. Here is to all the cycling women: Listen to yourself and your body! If you feel fine and have no medical condition, keep cycling through your pregnancy as long as it makes you feel good. At the end, a happy mom is the best surrounding for your growing child.
* Veloine editor’s note: Juli was one of the pregnant cyclists who intensively tested the Veloine Pregnancy Cycling Kit prototypes and contributed to developing a kit that meets the demands of a pregnant cyclist. The Pregnancy Cycling Kit will launch in Spring 2021.