Along for The Ride, Reflections on Pregnancy
It was early December and the sun was just peaking over the horizon of palm trees and wooden panel homes. I rode my bike to work and wondered to myself, I would know right? The question loomed in the back of my mind all day while I taught, and I knew I would have to ride to Longs Drugs Store to buy a test. Slightly embarrassed, I found the women’s health aisle and picked out the white box with the pink lettering, “Fact Plus”.
After the purchase, I rode home swiftly, a light fluttering in my chest and cheeks flush with a mix of anxiety and excitement. When the blue plus appeared on the test stick a wash of joy flooded over me. I had wished and planned for this moment for just under a year and I knew that I was ready for this next chapter in my life.
It wasn’t till that weekend, that I began to wonder, what would this new addition mean for riding?
Before becoming pregnant I had received a mix of advice, I had friends who said absolutely no riding and others who rode into their second trimester. As with anything pregnancy related, I quickly discovered that there was no shortage of opinions and even the experts varied on their advice. As a newly expecting mother, I heard from family, friends, doctors, and of course the online “experts”, only to find there was no definite answer. I was going to have to make this decision on my own.
A Personal Decision
I made the personal decision to keep trail riding based off 3 questions:
- How comfortable do I feel?
- Would I be able to make safe riding choices?
- Do the benefits out weigh the risks?
Asking myself these questions helped me realize what fears I had and why I wanted to keep riding. My decision to keep riding came down to the fact that I still felt very comfortable and confident on my bike. I knew that even though I couldn’t feel anything yet, I was carrying a new life inside of me, and that life needed my protection. I also knew that riding would help keep me healthy and strong for my growing child.
During the first trimester I felt huge changes in my body. We had been in a routine of riding mountain bike Saturday and dirt bike Sunday, and I very quickly realized that this was not something my body would be up to any more. The revolving door of hormones within me left me exhausted, and for the first time in my life I felt completely out of control of my body.
I found that in most of my adult life, I lived under the illusion that I make the decisions and my body follows. I was confident and happy with my body. I decided what to wear, how to eat, when and where I wanted to exercise. I did little things to customize my body to my liking and for the most part my body willingly followed. But in pregnancy, all of these normal bodily functions, that I had grown so accustomed to, changed and I found myself feeling betrayed by things I always took for granted.
It’s embarrassing to say, but during that first trimester I did a lot of crying. I felt strange in my skin, and although the changes weren’t visible yet, I could feel them. I wondered about everything, Is this normal? How much weight am I supposed to gain? Can I eat this? Is okay to feel like this? and because I was so insecure, I felt very alone. Then, along with those questions, came the hormones. The hormones made me absolutely insane. The worst of which were the acne and the flatulence. Apparently the progesterone your body produces during pregnancy causes the flatulence and androgens cause the acne. Both are completely normal, but at times a single fart, in my own house at night, would throw me into an inconsolable fit of tears. Other times it would happen in a store and I couldn’t stop laughing. Why was this happening? Why two such totally opposite and irrational reactions? And then how can I feel confident when I look in the mirror and my face looks worse than it did as a teen!
With all the changes and mood swings going on within my body, I needed something consistent, something that I looked forward to and enjoyed. I needed to ride. Riding was a time which I was forced to live in the moment. I didn’t think about the future or the past, but only the bike below me, my balance and what was in front of me at that moment. It was my meditation and exercise combined into one, and although I was more tired at the end of the day than I had ever been before, it helped me get through those strange first trimester months. I rode our normal trails, not telling our friends about the growing seed within my belly until week 16. I did more hiking and asked for help on any obstacle that I felt might put me at risk for a fall, but, at this point I knew that my baby was safe, tucked away behind my muscles and pelvic bones. I just needed to protect myself from a hard hit to my abdomen that could damage my forming placenta.
For me, the second trimester was a complete turn around from the first. My energy returned and as the production of hormones transferred from my body doing the majority of the work to my placenta providing the hormones necessary for our growing daughter (yes, we found out we are having a girl!), I felt so much better physically and emotionally.
It was around this time that my husband started to get more cautious about my riding. I still felt confident and balanced, but as I visibly became larger, I understood his concern for me. Still, we rode whenever we could and at week 23 I still had the cardio and endurance to make it up a mountain bike hill climb that I had never been able to complete even before pregnancy.
I am now at week 26 of my pregnancy and feeling great. I love our daughter with a fierceness I never knew possible and I can’t wait for her to be born. I’m still riding, and I know our little girl loves it too, sometimes I can feel her kick with excitement as we ride down smooth flowy sections of trail. I hope to keep riding, but as each week comes to a close I know I have to re-evaluate what is right for me and my baby girl.
Every pregnancy is different and each of us must make our own choices about what is best for us and our growing babies. My story is in no way advice on what you should or shouldn’t be doing during pregnancy, and I am no expert on any of this. I’m just a first time mama wanting to share my personal journey through pregnancy and learning as I go. I would love to hear from you so if you enjoyed this article please like, comment, or follow trailridermama.com. I’m now on Instagram and Facebook.
Aloha and looking forward to hearing from you!