Published: 27 November 2013
This month, Dame Sarah Storey will be making her return to competitive action at the Newport International Para-cycling Cup.
Britain's most decorated female Paralympic athlete gave birth to her daughter Louisa in June this year. Here are Sarah’s top tips for cycling during pregnancy…
Go on feel - A rider needs to train according to their own body, so it is impossible to set strict session lengths or heart rate aims. Some women suffer with sickness and other pregnancy ailments too, so these could dictate how well training can go.
Drink and drink - This is slightly frustrating as being pregnant puts pressure on the bladder, so you are always going to the loo, but staying hydrated is the best way to keep cool and protect the baby.
Don't take any undue risks - You will find you are very protective of your growing bump and things you previously did without worry all of a sudden feel dangerous. Don't ignore these feelings, there is no such thing as being too safe.
Ignore well-meaning advice - When you are pregnant you will find experts come out of the woodwork and want to advise you on everything from exercise to the buggy you should buy. Some will also show huge disapproval at your choice to continue cycling. Ignore these people and do what makes you happy.
Don't expect to find cycling maternity wear! Simply stretch your existing shorts or buy a bigger size and steal a man's jersey as you will need the extra length to cover your bump!
Don't worry about your weight - I gained four stone (24kg) while I was pregnant and bizarrely some of this was extra muscle built from climbing hills carrying my bump. Eat sensibly and exercise and you will maintain a strong metabolism, which will help when it comes to losing weight after birth.
Don't rush to lose weight after you give birth - You gradually gain weight during pregnancy, so you need to lose it gradually too. I found the first 10kg disappeared very quickly as it was mainly baby, water and other fluid, but after this, I have only lost a kilo or so every couple of weeks. Much of the fat you store is to fuel breast feeding hence the gradual weight loss, so it's even more important not to rush to lose weight as you affect your milk supply too.
Enjoy the whole process and be patient - Pregnancy and becoming a Mum is an amazing journey and it really does fly by, so don't try and rush things because your pregnancy will feel short once you are holding your baby. They don't stay tiny for long, so make the most of every day!
British Cycling’s Coaching and Education team recently worked with the NHS to review its guidance for expectant mums, which now advises that cycling should be done with caution due to the risk of falling.
Expectant mothers will experience a number of physical changes, including a loosening of the joints and a change in centre of gravity. These changes alter a rider’s ability to balance, so a coach should not ask riders to participate in technically challenging activities that require good balance.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) also provides excellent guidance on recreational exercise and pregnancy, suggesting that if people have cycled regularly beforehand, then they should simply take extra care. More information can be found here.