By Chloe Smith
Nine months had passed, and the miracle of childbirth is also behind you, as painful and fulfilling it can be. Bed rest, as relaxing as it is, can bore fairly quickly, and you might get antsy to start going out for walks. That is when you see all the other healthy, recovered moms on their bikes, jogs and long walks. It’s natural that you’ll want to get back “on the saddle” as well, but the road there might be a bit tougher than you expected. So we offer some key advice on what to pay attention to once you set your eyes on that bike collecting dust in your basement.
Consult your doctor
First and foremost, consulting your doctor is a must. They’ve been following your pregnancy, as well as the labor itself, and right after you, know what exactly your body’s been through. The only thing your doctor knows better is how long it will take your body to heal. Regular delivery will leave you fatigued and your muscles stretched and aching, but you could heal faster. On the other hand, a C-section delivery takes a longer time to heal, and requires more bed rest. Let your doctor know you want to get back on the bike, and ask them for advice rather than doing everything on your own accord, as the consequences could be painful.
Once you get the green light from your doctor to do some physical activity, chances are that you’re not fully capable of getting back on the bike. Baby steps are the safest way to “test the waters”, and make sure your body can transition from no physical activity to a full bike ride. The way to start the transition off is to go with light exercise and walks that get longer with each day. Once you’ve conquered those to the point of not breaking a sweat while working out, it’s safe to try and get back on the bike.
Listen to your body
Along with the first point, be mindful of your body’s reactions. Make sure you are always hydrated – even more than before you were pregnant. Don’t strain yourself, and the moment you notice your body starting to feel achy, weak or even painful stop what you’re doing, and take a breather. Take frequent small breaks during which you’ll pay close attention to how your body behaves – if there is a strain in some of the muscles or overall discomfort. Your body wants to get back in shape just as much as you do, but when it starts sending signals that something isn’t right, or it needs a break, listen to it, and take it easy.
Two’s a company
If you were a lone biker, then going back to biking will probably be returning to that solitary meditative state. However, if you’re a sociable person, you could join a biking club for weekly rides. Meeting new people will help keep you on schedule, should you find yourself wanting to rather lazy about with a baby than go outside, but also boost your social life in time when you really need it. Of course, your partner could be of immense help with either being your biking partner, or ensuring you have enough time for these little outings, while they babysit.
The right bike
Just as you are going through changes with your body, so will your bike. First, you will need to make sure that, at its current state, the bike can accommodate your recovery. Visit your shop and check the seating, buffers and tires. It needs to be in perfect riding condition to minimize injury risks. You might also want to add on your bike and bicycle accessories, like a holder for a water bottle or a basket to keep your things in them once the baby is big enough to accompany you. Secondly, when the time is right, customize the bike a little for your rider number two, to experience these outings in tandem.
When you decide to get back on the biking routine, you have to know straight away – you will need to eat more. Trying to stay slim by depriving yourself of that extra serving won’t help you, or the baby. Right now, you are not only providing nourishment for a growing newborn, you are also spending more calories riding your bike and exercising. Don’t halve your portions – make them healthier. Eat a lot of vegetables and fruit, and stay away from too much sourdough products, as they will build up more fat than actual proteins. Eat lean meats and fish, and steer clear of processed sugars.
All in all
The process of recovering from labor and pregnancy is long and more often tiresome. That shouldn’t distract you from going back to your bike as soon as you feel capable. But, you should also be aware of your limits, and know when it’s okay to take a break, hold off on exerting your body (if you aim to push your boundaries), and doing some light exercise instead of throwing yourself out there in an attempt to go back to your pre-pregnancy habits. The main thing to remember is to consult your doctor and go through the transition with them, as it’s a method that will have the best payoff.