Run a marathon in the morning…check
Begin labor and give birth to a baby girl that afternoon…check
Talk about a jam packed day!!
But that’s the day Amber Miller had recently. At 39-weeks pregnant, Amber participated and completed the Chicago marathon – all 26.2 miles of it. Just minutes after crossing the finish line, the 27-year old now mother of two started having contractions and was taken to a nearby hospital where she delivered a healthy 7.7 pound baby girl named June.
Commenting to the Associated Press while recovering in the hospital, Mrs. Miller says running the marathon that day “wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.” She’s been a runner for the last 10 years and in fact has completed the Chicago Marathon 8 times – quite a feat in of itself.
Amber ran half of the marathon, walked half, drank plenty of fluids and had something to eat along the way – all under advice of her doctor.
While it is unusual, it’s not unheard of to do this type of physical activity while pregnant. Miller for instance ran a marathon in Wisconsin during week 17 of her pregnancy and completed an Indianapolis marathon in 2009 during her first pregnancy.
To her surprise, Amber says she heard cheers of encouragement from spectators.
And she’s not the only mom to have trained or participated in a marathon during pregnancy. Current women’s marathon record holder Paula Radcliffe trained while pregnant and went on to win the New York marathon a mere 10 months after giving birth. Kara Goucher is another marathon runner who ran up to 80 miles per week while pregnant.
Doctors, midwives and other pregnancy care specialists say running long distances are okay provided you’re used to it and stay properly hydrated. However, you shouldn’t try anything that you’re not used to doing. It’s also commonly recommended that you keep your heart rate below 140 beats per minute.
Another thing to keep in mind while exercising during pregnancy – reduce risk of injury by paying particular attention to stretching. Higher levels of relaxin, a hormone that relaxes joints and ligaments, are present during pregnancy.
Doctors also say you should consider more padding in your shoes. As your pregnancy progresses, hips get a little wider to prepare for birth, which causes feet to roll inward excessively, which can affect biomechanics of the knee and hip.
Regardless of whether it’s a stroll down the street or a full marathon, exercising while pregnant is highly recommended. Keep certain limits in mind and don’t overdo it. Maintaining physical activity during pregnancy though will pay off for the health of both you and your baby.