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Postpartum Mountain Biking – When to get back on the bike?

Note: this post contains words related to child-birth. If theses sort of words make you light-headed, please look at this post instead.

Shortly after every pregnancy I’ve opened up my laptop, pulled up the internet and typed in to the search bar things like “postpartum mountain biking”, “how soon can I mountain bike after pregnancy”, “mountain biking after delivery”, “getting back on my bike after vaginal delivery”, etc.

I never find anything. No testimonials, no words of wisdom, no pictorials. Nada. I am going to rectify that situation. This post is for all those new OutsideMoms looking to see when other Moms get back on their mountain bikes after the brutal event known as ‘giving birth’.

Of course I don’t really have the answer for when to get back on your bike. One of my OB’s guessed maybe 4 months, the other two didn’t really have an opinion. So I asked Jen, thinking surely this mountain biking mother guru would know when I could bike. No luck, she had C-sections with both of her boys and “was told to wait eight weeks instead of the standard six”. Hmmm… at least that told me that six weeks was standard, which is more than I’d known before.

Jen did, however, direct me to this article about Sari Anderson (avid mountain biker, among other things) on the Skirt Sports blog. According to Sari she started biking a week after delivery (her kids were 4.5 lbs & 6 lbs) and was racing again by eight weeks! Dang! Note: She admits her Doctor’s probably wouldn’t have liked it,  see her comment in the comments sections on the events surrounding her decision.

It really does all depend on what kind of delivery you have. C-section or vaginal, episiotomy or not, postpartum issues or quick recovery, etc. Even for me this amount of time has varied with each of my three kids for various reasons. With my first there was no way I was getting on a bike before eight weeks, in fact I’m pretty sure it took even longer (major episiotomy and broken/bruised tail bone). With my third I was back on the bike by five weeks (small natural tear). After a rough pregnancy I was anxious to get out. I judged my ‘readiness’ by the amount of discomfort I felt, and never rode while I was stitched.

And to ease the transition back onto my back, two of my sympathizing fellow OutsideMoms gave me the best post-pregnancy gifts a mother could ask for.

What on earth are these you ask? My friends Amber and Claudia, knowing how anxious I was to get back on my bike, made and/or sent the following.

1. A circular jell filled Elmo ice pack, simply place in the refrigerator and take out before riding. Slip Elmo into the handy mesh pouch, attach it to the seat of your bike and feel it’s coolness soothe you.

2. Known to some as a theething ring, this circular jell filled ring can also be placed in the refigerator, it’s squishy yet firm and will lift your you-know-what off the seat so as not to disturb that area which is trying to heal. Comes with a luxurious swade pouch.

3. For those (of us) who have a history of tail bone injuries while giving birth, this rubbery air filled doughnut can be ever-so-no- at-all discretely strapped to any bike seat for maximum comfort and extra bounce.

I only wish I would have needed to try some of those inventions out.

I would love to hear (as would anyone who ever finds this post via a google search) how long others have waited to start biking again.

13 Comments so far

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  1. I did get back on my bike a week after having my second child however the doctor’s probably wouldn’t have liked it. I felt great, had no tearing or skid marks and my mom was in town helping. I didn’t go out on a hard core technical mountain bike but I did ride a dirt road with about 1,500 feet of climbing. Of note, I had continued to ride and run right up until giving birth so my fitness was still there. I gauged my efforts by making sure I did not cause any excess bleeding and completely listened to my body. There’s definitely not a magic number of days, weeks or months to get back mountain biking after giving birth, but if you’re body and mind feel ready, you probably are.

    • Hey Sari – Thanks so much for the extra insight!! I added a note to the post directing readers to your comment for more specifics surrounding your decision. I’m amazed you could even sit on your bike that soon, it’s awesome! Thanks again!

  2. Susan

    Another of the benefits of good preparation for birthing–you can get back to the “usual” that much faster. I was back on the trail (backpacking) within 6 weeks, baby in the front wrap. I wasn’t doing much biking back then, but I would imagine I would have been back in the saddle as soon as my “saddle parts” weren’t tender anymore.

    • Susan – Thanks for the comment. I agree on the good preparation thing, pays to stay active (if that’s possible) when your pregnant!

  3. Thank you so much for writing about this topic, seriously it’s a big one that most doctors, and indoor, non-cycling mom’s just don’t understand. For me it was 6 weeks but I took it easy and called it a day when my body was telling me to get out of the saddle…(I had a rough delivery, 4 hours of pushing, 3rd degree tear, 9+ lb baby) But unfortunately I listened to my doctor who told me to stop riding when I got pregnant, I think I could have ridden and felt good about it until I got freakishly huge. I don’t think I’ll be so paranoid the next time around :)

    • Rebecca – Thanks for the comment! Ok, two things made me say “wow”. 1. You rode 6 weeks after the delivery you described!?! Amazing. 2. Your doctor told you not to ride? That I have not heard, as far as most normal pregnancies go. Did he/she give a reason? Just curious…

  4. Amber

    You remember my first time back because you laughed at me for falling while trying to get from the parking lot to the sidewalk. I think I was 6 weeks out, I had a 2nd degree tear. But I think, and you can testify to this, that it takes time for our joints and equilibrium to get back to normal. So maybe starting back on not too technical terrain is good advice.

    • Amber – What? You fell? Glad I never did that… ;) No, thanks for the reminder, I actually can’t believe I failed to mention that in the post! It took me a couple of rides before I felt like my equilibrium was back. Those first few rides were slow going for sure.

  5. I am sitting here, 6 days after the birth of my second child, reading this post with heightened interest. I race road bikes and I rode until 37 weeks with this baby (with a break from 27-34 weeks due to a shortened cervix and “modified activity”), at which point I was told to stop riding because this kid was going to come FAST and I shouldn’t be on a bike when it happened.

    Well, the kid came in 48 minutes 6 days ago, so that was no joke.

    That said, I am still very sore and don’t anticipate getting back on my bike for a couple more weeks.

    With my first, I had third degree tearing and was back on the bike at 4 weeks. At that point, I rode every day, between 25-35 miles each time. I felt great! It was the off-season for road racing, so my first race was when she was 6 months old.

    So, yeah. It’s totally different for each mama and there is no reason to feel like you “have” to be back at it at a certain time. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. Right now, mine is saying CHILL THE F OUT, so I am. :) I can’t wait until it says, “GO GO GO!”

    • Eryn – I loved your comment. I’ll admit, I even just stalked your blog, that is one cute baby you have there. Congrats! And that photo of you getting ready for a ride at 34 weeks. You look like I did at 10 weeks. For real. Anyway, sounds like an exciting birth!

      I can’t believe you got back on the bike at 4 weeks with a 3rd degree tear. To be quite honest, I never even thought to try getting back on my bike sooner than 5 weeks. I guess I just assumed it wouldn’t be a good idea… Now, having read all these comments, I guess I could have tried sooner. Having spent the later portion of my pregnancy on bed rest I’m pretty sure my body was saying GO GO GO about 5 minutes after I gave birth. Well, relatively speaking of course… :)

      Best of luck getting back in the saddle this time around!

  6. Sarah

    I tried a bike, maybe two weeks after birth, but an experienced friend warned me to wait. I did and went running instead. I wish I had just gone back inside. I had an easy birth with just a skid mark and no stitches, but six weeks later, I wasn’t fully healed and had to wait an additional two weeks to resume “normal activities”. In reality, six weeks is just not that big of a deal even though I feel crazy sitting on the couch for six weeks. This third time I’m trying to convince myself ahead of time that I cn do all the running and running around I want up until delivery, and then I’m taking six entire weeks OFF.

    Overall I wish there was more guidelines for everything fitness related with pregnancy. Each pregnancy I get braver and braver about continuing my normal outdoor activities, but it’s still a little scary.

  7. lynn

    Hi,

    I left a comment pre baby re mtb post pregnancy. Im pleased to announce my little girl is now 6 weeks old and I had my first ride today. I had a normal delivery but ended up with a second degree tear. When riding today no tenderness from the scar but my back and legs ouch!!

    • Lynn, Congratulations!! For both the birth of your daughter AND your first ride. Now to work on those leg muscles :)!

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