Cycling after pregnancy
There is no real rule for getting back on the bike after giving birth. However, gynecologists normally advise waiting for the postnatal visit, wich takes place 5-6 weeks after delivery. This visit make it possible to check that everything is back in order and to plan perineal rehabilitation sessions.
It will be interesting to set up a fitness program after childbirth, to resume physical activity gently. Getting back on the bike also allows you to regain speed and freedom.
It might seem counter-intuitive but cycling really can be one of the best forms of exercise after giving birth. Why?
- Well, it’s easily grade-able, so can be as hard or as easy as you’re feeling up to.
- It’s very low impact compared to other forms of exercise, which let’s face it means there’s a lot less chance of sending your boobs flying around!
- Cycling can also offer the perfect path to build your fitness back up, before you put the stresses through your bones and ligaments that something like running can cause.
- Whether you’ve already got older little ones, or this is your first, at some point you’re going to be faced with trying to keep up with a speedy toddler, so getting back on the bike sooner rather than later is a very good idea! (Plus, there’s few more effective ways to tire the kids out than a good family cycle).
- Finally, it would be impossible to talk about cycling without noting the invaluable good that exercise and fresh air can do for postpartum mental health. It’s worth it just for that bit of time to yourself.
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TIMELINES DEPENDING ON DELIVERY
Whatever your mode of delivery, you will likely want to wait around 4-6 weeks before getting in the saddle.
C-Section - Even though you are more likely to be comfortable on the saddle, it is best to wait 6 weeks as you need to ensure your scar is well healed.
Perineal Tear - You will want to wait until sitting in a chair and using the toilet feels comfortable at least - likely to be around 4-6 weeks depending on the degree of tearing.
Vaginal delivery with no tears or stitches - Let your body be your guide. As for vaginal tearing, wait until it does not feel uncomfortable to sit or use the toilet.
If you feel you need longer than 6 weeks then take your time, there is no rush. Listen to your body and start when you want to and feel ready.
HOW YOU CAN MAKE IT MORE COMFORTABLE
- A good pair of padded cycling shorts are an absolute must. Remember, that it’s your seat bones rather than your perineum that will be taking the weight on a bike, so that’s where you’ll want most padding. (To begin with, a sheepskin saddle cover can offer an extra bit of comfort, too – ensure it fits well and doesn’t slip around when you’re riding).
- Saddle choice can make a massive difference, and using a female-specific saddle is more important than anything. (Wider saddles designed specifically for the
- female anatomy will keep the pressure where it needs to be, supporting your buttocks more and taking the pressure off the perineum).
Scar massage – at the perineum or c-section scar – can also be a great pain reliever. After 6 weeks, use an un-perfumed oil and spend 5 minutes a few times a week massaging after a bath or shower. (You can start to the side of the scar if it is uncomfortable to begin with, and then start to press over the scar. Move in gentle circles, up and down and side to side, building pressure as it feels comfortable).