Postpartum Pedaling – Mom on a Mountain Bike

Eight months ago my pregnant mountain biking journey ended with the birth of my ADORABLE baby boy. If you read my previous story – Shredding for Two, you know I kept up biking throughout my pregnancy. In fact, I did a greenway ride hours before my water broke! Full disclosure, I felt terrible on that ride!! I very much wanted to sit around since I was so tired during my third trimester, but I made myself get out and exercise because I wanted to be healthy and also hoped it would help during delivery and speed up my recovery.

When the time came, I had a pretty standard vaginal delivery and only needed two stitches. Whew! After eight days I was pretty much going nuts and wanted to get on my bike. I grabbed my mountain bike and went to our local park and rode 1.5 miles of trail without ever touching the saddle. It was so fun and I felt so free…but I also didn’t feel very natural on the bike. It felt a bit foreign since I hadn’t let loose in so long, plus I was lighter and my weight was distributed much differently. I went on a couple more short rides during which I stood the entire time and felt great. I then talked to my OB/GYN and she said 10 days out was good and that I could sit on the saddle if I felt OK. It was on!

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Airing it out. 12 days after having the baby.

I like long rides, but I also love playing around on my bike and catching some air.  I hit a tabletop and a few other features 12 days postpartum and was starting to get my groove back. A friend who had just finished Physical Therapy school saw what I was doing and told me to chill out for at least six weeks while my uterus and pelvic floor recovered. She also warned me that I could have ligament and tissue laxity until I was finished nursing. If you are considering returning to exercise after having a baby, please discuss it with your doctor and if possible find a pelvic floor Physical Therapist for guidance.

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2 months postpartum hitting the Cupcake road gap at Snowshoe Bike Park in WV

After getting warned about potential injury, I backed off until 4 weeks postpartum when I decided to do a downhill race. This particular race doesn’t have drops or jumps, just rocky/rooty gnar, so I figured it was OK. After six weeks I started jumping off of things again, and at eight weeks I achieved a long-term goal of hitting the Cupcake road gap at Snowshoe Bike Park in WV. Yay! Obviously I felt I had something to prove after all of those long pregnant months when I didn’t feel like myself. As a mountain biker I felt I lost some of my identity during that time and it was painful watching all of my friends progress while I was left behind. In retrospect I may have gone out too hard, too soon. I felt energetic but pregnancy and childbirth are hard as hell on your body! I treated maternity leave like a vacation and didn’t rest much nor did I eat as well as I should have. I ended up with the flu and became anemic, so we had to focus more on rest and cooking healthy food instead of eating out so much. This was tough considering we had a little baby to contend with (you moms know what I’m talking about!).

During the first few months of postpartum riding I had no endurance but was happy to be riding. Once I returned to work after three months I really lost my strength and consequently some of my mojo. Not to mention the whole “self preservation” thing kicked in about that time. How could I take care of my sweet little baby if I hurt myself??  Working full-time while missing my baby all day was (and is) tough. I no longer ride on weekdays because I want to spend that time with my son, which leaves weekends for riding…in three hour chunks. This brings me to a huge dilemma: breastfeeding and pumping.

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Bike, helmet, shoes, BREAST PUMP!!!  All the essential items.  Are the laws against pumping and driving?!

From what I’ve read and experienced, milk needs to be expressed a minimum of every few hours in order to keep up the supply. This means that my rides could never exceed three hours and is still the case eight months later. Honestly this has worked out for us because my husband also rides and we tend to just take turns riding while the other watches the baby. I hope to begin stretching this out more very soon now that baby is eating some solid food. My preference is to take turns riding because pumping sucks and I would rather just nurse my baby right after my ride. Typically I will nurse baby immediately before riding and then leave some previously pumped milk (or now some solid food) with my husband, then feed baby as soon as I finish riding. If I am going to drive somewhere in town and leave hubby and baby behind, I pump in the car right before riding in order to reset my 3-hour ride clock.

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Stay tuned for a follow up story on how husband Davy’s life has been altered forever.

Riding is obviously a huge part of our lifestyle considering my husband owns a bike shop and I am an IMBA Level II skills instructor. We have realized that traveling with a baby is much easier if you have a homebase and stay places longer. We used to daytrip to many different riding destinations, but now we try to go for a weekend so that baby isn’t in the car too much and can have a relaxing place to hang out if the weather isn’t great. We really took advantage of maternity leave by traveling to multiple riding destinations during the week when there were no crowds. It was fantastic! We are continuing the trend by spending the week of Thanksgiving with friends in Pisgah NC. Who said life has to end once you become a mother?

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Kelly and Tricia practicing the golden fall wheelies.

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Sun’s out tongue’s out!
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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Thank you for sharing! I am a cyclist as well expecting my first. I am 25 weeks and still cycling. I love being on my bike!

  2. Jessica

    This is so helpful! Thank you for sharing. Do you have any tips for finding a good bike seat post partum? I’m still a newbie, but the stock seat that came with my bike is sooo uncomfortable after having a baby!

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