Marathon Runner Gives Birth After Finishing Race

FOX Chicago News
Amber Miller felt contractions just minutes after crossing the finish line at the Chicago Marathon. A few hours later, the suburban Chicago woman — who slogged her way through 26.2 miles while nearly 39 weeks pregnant — delivered a healthy baby girl.

“For me, it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. I was running up until that point anyway,” Miller told The Associated Press in an interview from the hospital where she was recovering Monday. “I am crazy about running.”

Sunday’s marathon was the eighth for the 27-year-old, who has been running for more than a dozen years. She found out she was pregnant with her second child days after signing up for the Chicago race and decided to play it by ear on whether or not she would run.

When the baby hadn’t been born by Sunday, she got clearance from her doctor to run half. She completed it with a with a half-run half-walk approach, drinking lots of fluids and eating a lot along the way. She finished in 6:25:50, much slower than her usual marathon time, but still content.

“Lots of people were cheering me on: `Go pregnant lady!”‘ she said. “I was expecting some negative comments. I don’t remember anything.”

It was not Miller’s first marathon while pregnant.

In May, the Westchester woman ran the Wisconsin Marathon in 4:23:07 while 17 weeks pregnant with her daughter. In 2009, she ran the Indianapolis Marathon in 4:30:27 while she was 18 weeks pregnant with her son Caleb, who’s 1.

Elite runners have trained while pregnant, but doctors say Miller is a rarity. She was 38 weeks and five days pregnant. Full-term is typically defined as 40 weeks.

Marathon world-record holder Paula Radcliffe ran 14 miles a day while pregnant and resumed training weeks after the birth of her first child. She won the New York City Marathon in 2007 just 10 months after delivery. American marathoner Kara Goucher, who gave birth to her son last year, also trained while pregnant, running 80 miles a week at times.

“It’s probably the rare woman who is in good enough shape to run a marathon while pregnant. It’s probably the exception more than the rule,” said Dr. Priya Rajan, an assistant professor in obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

Medical guidelines generally say that if a woman was a runner and healthy before she got pregnant, running during pregnancy is fine. Doctors even recommend exercise for low-risk pregnancies. However, medical experts agree that pregnancy is not the time to begin any exercise endeavors, such as starting marathon training for the first time. For pregnant runners, close monitoring by a doctor is recommended.

Miller who was looking forward to getting rest, said she the only effects she felt from the marathon, which she finished around 3:30 p.m., were blisters on her feet. She was just happy to see her daughter June, who was born at 10:29 p.m. at 7 pounds, 13 ounces with no complications.

Ingrid Kristiansen

In 1982, elite runner Ingrid Kristiansen ran a 2:33 marathon.  For many this would be a good race but for her she wondered why it was slow.   While investigating why it was (for her) so slow, she discovered that she was four months pregnant. Four months after giving birth, she won the Houston Marathon in 2:27 and three months later set the women’s world record in the London Marathon in 2:21. Most would wonder how she didn’t know she was pregnant but this is not uncommon in highly trained athletes.

At  5’6″ and 106 pounds, she trained 100 hilly miles per week. This high level of training lead amenorrhea, the infrequent menstrual periods experienced by many gymnasts, ballet dancers and distance runners. For years she had been used to going months without a period. Thus, in 1983, she was ripe for the surprise of her life.

“In January I won the Houston Marathon,” says Kristiansen. “I thought I recovered well, but I got beat by some runners I really shouldn’t have lost to in 10-and 15-kilometer road races.” Then she finished 35th in the world cross-country race in Gateshead, England, an event in which she had been sixth the year before.

Kristiansen’s coach, Johan Kaggestad, was confused. “My wife said, ‘She must be pregnant. Ask her.’ It was Ingrid’s birthday and she was miserable, so I didn’t. But the next day on the plane I brought it up, and she laughed and said, ‘No, no.’ But I said maybe it would be good to take a test.” A week passed. “I answered the phone, and she was crying, not only that she was pregnant, but that she was five months pregnant.”

The tears were of shock, not dismay. She wanted a baby, but she wanted to run, too. Kristiansen trained as much as she could before the birth. “When she got so round she couldn’t run, she swam and biked and walked for hours,” said Kaggestad. In effect she had the luxury of a four-month pregnancy.

She finished fourth in the Woman’s Olympic Marathon in the 1984 Los Angeles Games.  Coming from Norway, where it is cold for months,  she was known for training on the treadmill.  She won several big marathons wins on her running resume  including New york, Chicago, Boston twice, London a record four times, Stockholm three times and Houston two times.

She started her athletic career  as a National ranked cross-country skier.  She was the European Juniors champion in 1974 and won eight Norwegian Championships in the relay.  This goes to show a person doesn’t have to start out as a runner to become a fast one.

Pregancy is no excuse to sit around and eat more

If only more women realized that pregnancy is not an excuse to sit down and eat extra food for 9 months, but more than ever a reason to stay active and healthy for you and your baby’s health.

I recently came across an article about Paula Radcliff running a race and thought it would be encouraging to other women.  Why?   Paula Radcliffe the 10km world record holder of 30:21 set   in 2003.  She ran a 10k in early July, which paid tribute to the Jane Tomlinson charity.    Jane set up the charity before she died of cancer.   This doesn’t sound unusual but she was 7 months pregnant.  She completed the course in a time of 45 minutes and 35 seconds and ran the final 100 meters with her three-year old daughter Isla Lough. Paul ran the New York Mini 10k in June, finishing with a time of 44: 36 seconds (almost 15 minutes slower than her world record).   She obviously is not concerned about running a time, but it was about enjoying the day. After all how often do you think she gets to take it easy in a race?  She is running every day to keep up her fitness for the 2012 Olympics, which are in her home country London England.

I have three children of my own and ran every day of my pregnancies.  As I read the article it brought back memories of me running and even racing while pregnant.  I had people give me dirty as I ran.  My doctor encouraged me to run but change so of my routines- like so running at the hottest time of day and  so my pace.  One time a friend passed me on an up hill in the last mile of a 5K.  He later told me he felt guilty passing a 7 months pregnant runner but figured he would not have another chance to bet me.   Like Paula I ran more for the enjoyment.  I had the chance to run with my sister in a 5k and not worry my time.   It was nice to not care about the number of females that past me, or if one of my rivals where on my heels.   I wore a heart rate monitor to help keep me running well under my target heart rate zone.  If you don’t have a heart rate monitor I suggest getting one because it will keep up in the zone (if you’re not pregnant obviously it will be in the zone not under).  I also talked during the race to people.  This at first seemed odd because as a competitive runner you never talk during a race you try to get the person in front of you.   I had no problems suring my pregnancies or deliveries.  My only worry after my first was will I get to the hospital in time or will the baby be born as I run into the hospital.  All three of my deliveries where 100% natural.  I was back running 6 weeks after having my first child.  The other two I was back running two weeks later.  I lost all the baby weight by my six week check up.  Several people said I was lucky to loos the weight so quickly but it was not luck it was because of all the exercise I did during the pregancy and that I didn’t let myself sit around after I deliverd- it was the workouts I did not luck.  I  was glad to hear Olympians running while pregnant and helping others realize that just because you are pregnant doesn’t mean you have to stop everything.

Heart Rate Monitors Allow Pregnant Runners To Continue Training

When a woman finds out she is pregnant it is usually something to be excited about.  But many women who run or exercise have to then decide do I continue running or take off the next nine months.  If you follow a few training guidelines you can continue training during your pregnancy maybe up to the day you deliver.

Before hitting the roads for a run a pregnant woman should consult her doctor about continuing her exercise program.  Make sure to keep your obstetrician informed about the type and amount of running/exercise you are doing.  In most cases if a woman ran or exercised prior to finding out she was pregnant the doctor will encourage her to continue exercising during the pregnancy. The important word is before because your body is accustomed to exercising already.    You may have to run slower and at a different time of the day but there are lots of benefits for staying active during your pregnancy.   You don’t want to be running during the hottest time of day in the summer months.  A pregnant woman should keep her core body temperature below 102 degrees to prevent fetal hyperthermia (over heating).

Another key element for a pregnant woman while running or exercising is her heart rate.  Your heart rate will help determine how hard the individual is working while running of exercising.   Most doctors suggest keeping a pregnant woman’s heart rate below 140 beats per minute during the run.  Monitoring her heart rate during exercise is essential for both mother and the unborn child health.  The extra weight will make your bodywork harder then it did before you where pregnant.  This is true even if you are working at a slower pace.  Intense exercise boosts oxygen intake and blood flow to the muscles and away from other parts of your body such as your uterus.

If you don’t have a heart rate monitor you would have to stop and count the beats for 10 seconds then multiply the number by 6 to get your heart rate per minute.   Heart rate monitor provide a simple and accurate way to observe and regulate the woman’s heart rate during exercise.  When you train with a heart rate monitor watch it will allow you to train continuously and get her instant feedback.   You can preset your limit of 140 beats and the watch will beep letting you know you are going to above your limit.  Since you will know instantly when you are above your heart rate of 140 beats you can adjust your pace immediately.  Most monitors use a weak radio signal to transfer heart rate from a strap you wear around your chest to a watch.  This is safe for both mother and child.

I have three children and ran during all of my pregnancies.  I personally was able to run until the day before I delivered each of my children.  I didn’t run the day I delivered because they all arrived early in the morning.  My body was accustomed to running between 70 plus miles a week before I found out I was pregnant.  The only thing that changed for me was I ran slower and shorter. The monitor helped me adjust my training pace as my body was adjusting to each pregnancy.  Wearing a monitor helped me continue running while pregnant by giving me peace of mind that I was not harming my child.  The fun part was when I entered a few 5k races.  Other runners would get frustrated seeing pregnant runner enjoying the race.  I was use to running hard in races but being pregnant I just ran for fun.
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