Riding while pregnant

When most women first learn that they’re pregnant, I imagine they start researching things like prenatal care, newborn care, etc.   Pretty much my first question was, “OK, but can I still ride my motorcycle?”

My Google searches weren’t really much help, to be honest.  Most results fell into one of two buckets:
(1) Non-motorcycling sites had horrified replies from (mostly) women clutching their pearls at the mere thought
(2) Motorcycling sites had posts from (mostly) men stating that they didn’t let their wives/girlfriends/daughters ride after becoming pregnant

Well, that’s no help.

My very first question at my very first ob-gyn visit in October was about motorcycling.  My ob-gyn reassured me that the actual act of riding a motorcycle (i.e. straddling a bike; the vibrations; the posture) wasn’t harmful to the fetus at all.   I wasn’t going to somehow knock the baby loose or rattle the brain out or anything. 😉 In a vacuum, where there are no accidents and no crashes and nothing ever goes wrong, motorcycling is completely safe for the unborn baby.

So, that said, my doctor emphasized, the issue would be if something did go wrong.  This would actually be a two-fold issue: baby and me.

Contrary to what I read over and over online, the baby would actually be very well protected in case of a normal get-off.  Remember that we’re talking about early in my pregnancy here — the fetus was about 4-6 weeks — and I wasn’t showing at all.   Unless I was involved in an accident that actually punctured my gut (which would be problematic for multiple reasons), the baby had a pretty good chance.  They’re well-padded and it takes a lot of trauma to injure them.

The real problem at that point would be medically treating me.  Even if I were to just sustain a sprained wrist, say, normal treatment would be tricky.  When Peter was hit by the minivan in July, he had a few X-rays and left with a prescription for a painkiller.  Doing either of those things becomes much more difficult when the patient is pregnant. Not impossible…just more difficult.

So, all that was to say that my doctor left it up to me to make the choice.

My choice was to continue riding until I couldn’t fit into my gear anymore.   Now, I wound up not riding at all from about 5 to 9 weeks because of the morning sickness.  I was never actually sick, but was constantly dizzy, lightheaded, and queasy — I had trouble just driving to work every morning, so riding a motorcycle was completely out of the question.

Once I started feeling better, I rode pretty much every weekend for the next five weeks or so.  I had no issues physically riding and it never felt “wrong” to me to do so.  I enjoyed the rides — I think the pregnancy hormones also loosened up some back muscles, so riding was far less painful than it had been — and I greatly enjoyed “showing” blueberry some of my favorite places.

I’m probably about 9 weeks pregnant in this photo:

By the time Peter and I went out of town for Thanksgiving (week 15), the Teiz suit was starting to get a little tight.

Starting to get a little bump on vacation:

If it was summer, I think I could have squeezed another week or two of riding in, but by the time we got back into town in late November, I couldn’t fit my T-shirt, long sleeved shirt, heated jacket, and blueberry all into the suit.  I could mostly fit into my old overpants and BMW jacket, but it was starting to get uncomfortable to lean forward on the Ninjette with a waistband poking me, and thus we did the bike winterization the first week of December (week 17).

I really have no qualms at all about having ridden while pregnant.  Obviously it should be a personal decision for each particular family, but I never saw a blanket reason why pregnant women should never ride ever never ever ever.  Peter was also very supportive, and I feel confident that he would have spoken up if he thought I was doing anything he felt was reckless.

One caveat would be that — in my opinion — it would probably be a bad time to learn how to ride.  I’m realizing that one theme of pregnancy is that the body is pretty awesome at adapting things you’re already used to doing.  If you already work out, or do weight training, or run marathons…as long as you’re not an idiot about things and keep your doctor in the loop, you and baby will probably be OK continuing to do those things during pregnancy.    For me, motorcycling fit into that category.  After riding for 12 years and more than 150,000 miles, I have good situational awareness on the bike.  I don’t think I’m invulnerable or invincible, but I do know motorcycles — and how to ride them — well enough to be able to add an additional minor challenge into the mix.

Which is a good segue on why Peter and I chose not to get a sidecar.

At first, we thought it was a no-brainer.  Of course we’d get a sidecar! That’s what motorcyclists do when they have kids, right?  Well, I still do want one eventually because they look crazy fun, but we talked about it and decided that this wasn’t the right moment.  Because riding a sidecar isn’t like riding a motorcycle — the steering is different, the mechanics are different — and we don’t know anything about riding a sidecar.  We don’t have that sixth sense of “this feels right” vs “this feels wrong” and to add a pregnancy or baby into that wasn’t the right decision for us.

So, after blueberry is born I may take a sidecar class just for fun (though I’m having trouble finding one locally; anyone know of any in the Bay Area?) and maybe in a few years, I’ll feel comfortable enough riding one to put a child in.

Besides?  Gorgeous:

 

So that’s where I landed on the topic of riding while pregnant.  Some women will rightly decide that they shouldn’t ride at all once learning that they’re pregnant.  Other women will rightly decide that they wish to continue riding much later into their pregnancy than I did.

By the way, for those who have no issue with pregnant women on motorcycles, I thoroughly enjoyed this piece on ADV about a man and his wife who rode through Vietnam despite her being 18 weeks pregnant with twins:  Vietnam and Onwards…Two Minsks and Twins

On that note, we’re halfway done.  20 weeks down, 20 to go.

And then the next adventure starts…with our daughter. 🙂

(Edited a few weeks later to add this photo, since it’s oh-so-topical!)

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13 Responses to Riding while pregnant

  1. Pete Rainwater says:

    Good writing. I enjoyed reading this very much!

    When I hear some young lady complaining that “I am ready for this baby to get here!” or “I feel like I have been pregnant forever!”, I will often offer to give them a ride to the hospital on the back of my motocycle. I even add that if they are not ready by the time we get there I can always make a couple of laps around the parking lot. The speedbreakers should help “speed” things along.

    A few ladies have looked at me like I am some crazed lunatic. A couple have remarked something like, “Well, not yet but if nothing happens soon I may take you up on the offer!”

    All this was an attempt to put some humor into the situation. I expect almost all women will draw the line somewhere that provides some confidence that they are not going to harm the precious cargo.

    Thanks again for an entertaining and probably helpful essay.

  2. Good for you for taking the time to make an INFORMED decision, keeping an open mind, and being responsible in your decision making.
    Note: Responsible doesn’t mean not riding while pregnant, it means knowing the possibilities, the consequents, your own state, and riding accordingly.

    Listen to me, sounding like I know a single thing about being pregnant lol. As if! But based on my limited experience, you sound like you’re off to a great start to mama-hood.

  3. PS: not sure if you check out FuzzyGalore, but she and her daughter go out riding together quite often. Might give you something to eyeball and look forward to, y’know?
    Best wishes!

  4. Linda says:

    A wee girl, eh? Lovely. 🙂

    One of my first biking friends, in England, passed her test and immediately got pregnant. Her question was much the same. Her doctor said “up to five months” and she made her own call on when it wasn’t going to work any more. We lost touch, so I don’t know how far she went, but I know it (riding with a baby bump) was a factor.

  5. Christine says:

    When I learned I was pregnant, the first thing I googled was “Can I ride a motorcycle while pregnant?” (that is, after turning white from shock!). I found your website in some of the top hits. Thank you for your thoughtful, informed post. I also found a slew of posts that seemed to be written with one hand clutching pearls and the other on a keyboard. Your insights are pretty refreshing here.

  6. Kim says:

    I too just love the pic!! This too was the FIRST topic of concern to me. Although I’m not 100% sure I’m pregnant, I have many many signs pointing in that direction. I have told my husband I don’t want to give up my motorcycle even if we have kids. He is very supportive and I know he will be of my continued interest in riding while pregnant. It’s nice to read about other women who feel the same way that I do. I’m sure I’m going to get plenty of negative looks and comments. I say, bring them on. I believe it is each woman’s choice.

    Thanks for posting this!!

  7. Polly says:

    Thank you for writing this, I enjoyed reading it. I am 22 and just found out I am pregnant with my first child. Although I haven’t got a full motorcycle license I have had my CBT for a few years and a renewed it once and love to ride my cagiva planet 125 around the English country side. My boyfriend has been riding for years and loves it but says he is going to sell his bike now we are having a baby however I can not bring myself to sell my beloved planet and wish to ride it for as long as I can.
    Anyway thank you very much for helping with my decision making 🙂

  8. Mena Cohesion says:

    YAY.

    I just found out I am pregnant and this also only thing that I am worried about!!! I ride every day, riding is very important for my sanity!

    I am thinking of trading in my sport bike for a Harley or some such cruiser they fit giant bellies!!!

    Thanks for the read!

  9. Leanne says:

    Really good to see your article! As an avid rider (and 8 weeks pregnant) I had been searching the internet to find out whether it was safe to ride. While being fully aware of the issues in the event of an accident, I just wanted to know if posture and vibrations from leaning against the tank would be a problem. Just about to head off to Ireland for the Northwest 200 bike racing 🙂 Glad the vibrations won’t rattle my poor little bean!

  10. Angela says:

    Thanks Thanks Thanks Thanks!!!! Love every single word you wrote. I don´t feel crazy about it any more. Thanks!

  11. shortstuffG says:

    Hi. I am currently 15 weeks pregnant and about to pop off to work on my motorbike so was reassuring to read that I am not alone. Unfortunately though I am only a small lady and my time is running out to be able to reach the handlebars.
    I also have an almost 3 yr old who joined the motorcycle world at 7 months old in our sidecar. She loves it and happily gets in when we decide to ride. As you say the steering is quite different to a normal motorcycle so I’m happy to leave hubby with that responsibility!

  12. Jean says:

    Hi… Im currrently 5 weeks pregnant and Im worried that i would give up my motorcycle when my tummy gets bigger and bigger… but after reading this post im happy to hear that riding while not affect my unborn baby………. i havent consulted yet my OB so atleast I know that I can still ride my bike while working…..

    Thanks

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