I was six weeks pregnant, and I really wanted to ride my bike. My mind told me to do it, but my body told me to go lay down and take a nap. It’s amazing how quickly pregnancy can make you go from feeling powerful in your athletic endeavors, to feeling weak and tired. I decided to push through the fatigue to ride my bike and felt somewhat invigorated by the increase in my heart rate, the sweat and the fresh air.
I was blessed in my first pregnancy to not really have any of the typical morning sickness symptoms, but I wasn’t so lucky this second time around. A general feeling of nauseousness and fatigue kicked in about six weeks into the forty-week process of growing a human inside my body. I remember thinking, “I can’t believe I feel so terrible already. I still have thirty-four weeks to go.”
The feelings of sickness and fatigue did lead me to be more careful about what I was eating and to be more mindful of my hydration. When I woke up in the morning feeling sick, I found that drinking a big glass of water would make me feel significantly better pretty quickly. It was amazing how simply drinking a glass of water made the difference between me feeling ok and feeling like I could barely get up off the couch.
Hydration is obviously important in cycling, but even more so when riding for two. There are many times, in general, that I do not drink enough water on rides, but now the consequences of that can be more dire. Dehydration can lead to having a low amount of amniotic fluid which is essential for the development of the baby. My fluid levels were on the lower side with my first pregnancy, so this time around I have been trying to make hydration a top priority. Although the downside to that, is having to pee more often, but that would probably happen no matter what with things changing and growing and pressing on my bladder.
Weeks six and seven were my low point, but gradually as the weeks ticked on, I started to feel a little bit better and then even better still. As I hit weeks fourteen and fifteen, I started to feel like myself again. Although, at about that same time, I started to feel my belly pop out a bit more and could feel that I was getting heavier and slower, especially going uphill. It is a strange feeling to not be in complete control of your fitness level and the size and shape of your body.
Now entering week twenty (about halfway through this little adventure), I am feeling relatively normal again, no more nausea, although still tired, and the going is getting slower and slower on the bike. Now I am finding riding to be more and more mentally challenging. I enjoy racing and riding hard, not all the time, but at least some of the time and it is difficult for me not be able to do that. I enjoy social riding too, but I have become too slow to keep up with many of my riding buddies and I feel bad holding people back. It’s become mentally challenging to get out there with no training goals and doing a lot of solo riding. My motivation is dwindling.
However, I am totally convinced that exercise makes you feel better mentally and physically as you go through all these pregnancy changes and so I am determined to keep riding for as long as I can. I encourage all women to try to stay as active as possible while pregnant, especially if you were very active before pregnancy (obviously, consult with your doctor about the specifics). In the long run, it makes they pregnancy and recovery after, easier and quicker. You may not be able to do very much high intensity exercise, but still, get out and ride, walk, stretch, swim, just keep moving along.