Medical guidelines generally say that if a woman was a runner and healthy before becoming pregnant, continuing during her pregnancy is fine. Some obstetricians, though, say pregnant women simply shouldn’t run marathons because they could push themselves too hard, while some experts say the level of exercise seldom becomes an issue during pregnancy.
Marathon runner Amber Miller of Westchester gave birth to daughter June Audra Miller in October 2011,after completing the Chicago Marathon.
Despite being almost 39 weeks pregnant when she hit the starting line of the Chicago Marathon, Miller ran through labor contractions and the unusually warm 77-degree day to finish the race. She delivered a healthy daughter about 7 1/2 hours later.
“The race was definitely easier than the labor,” Miller said as she cradled her 7-pound, 13-ounce newborn, June Audra Miller. Miller, 27, a veteran marathon runner, decided to take part after getting the OK from her doctor — and because she and her husband already had signed up for the race before learning of her pregnancy.
She ran regularly through her pregnancy without any problems, but opted to play it safe by running only half the 26.2-mile course and walking the other half. Her 32-year-old husband, Joe, stayed with her to keep a close eye on her.
In fact, this race wasn’t even her young daughter’s first marathon — Miller was 17 weeks pregnant in May when she finished the Wisconsin Marathon.
“We don’t recommend that women routinely run marathons, but obviously mom is a very experienced runner and in excellent shape,” said Dr. Jeffrey Loughead, a neonatologist at Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield, where Miller delivered her baby.
“It’s probably the rare woman who is in good enough shape to run a marathon while pregnant,” said Dr. Priya Rajan, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
“Even if you were to run the race slowly, you’d still be exerting yourself for several hours,” Dr. Douglas Hall said in the book, “Runner’s World Complete Book of Women’s Running.”
Miller said she didn’t feel any ill effects from her 6-hour and 25-minute effort during the marathon, except sore feet and a few blisters. She set an easy pace, running two miles, and then walking the next two — finishing three hours off her personal best for a marathon.
She said some other racers did double takes when they noticed the visibly pregnant runner in the white T-shirt jogging along, but many offered encouraging comments. Her labour really started just after she finished the race, but she still felt well enough to grab a sandwich for lunch before driving with her husband to the hospital to deliver their baby