At first glance, you might think today’s big story about a woman who ran a marathon while 39 weeks pregnant and then gave birth is pretty insane. But on further consideration, you might just think she’s an incredible athlete: After getting her doctor’s approval to half-run, half-walk a marathon, Amber Miller decided to run the Chicago Marathon, finishing in six hours and 25 minutes, before heading straight to the hospital to give birth to a healthy son. Not all women should attempt the same feat, of course, but to us, her accomplishment seems like proof that you don’t have to just lay back and quit the gym the moment you know you’ve conceived.
Miller is an experienced runner, something that she says helped her decide whether to complete the race. She told the Chicago Sun Tribune:
I got the OK from my doctor to run half, and my husband ran with me and supported me along the way. I ran half and walked half, that’s how I finished. Everybody just kind of stared as I’m running by. I know what I can handle. This is something I’ve been doing for a long time.
She added that she has been running throughout her pregnancy (she ran a marathon when she was four months pregnant, and completed a marathon when she was pregnant with her first son, too), so she was used to it. In fact, when contractions began during the race she said she didn’t think it was labor because she’d experienced contractions before as a pregnant runner. But when the race was over, she almost beelined for the hospital—except for a post-race snack:
The contractions became regular after we finished, so we stopped and grabbed a sandwich and then went to the hospital.
Her new daughter, June Audra, was born at 10:29pm in excellent physical condition. “She’s absolutely perfect,” Miller said. “We are extremely happy, but very tired.”
While she says that she got mixed reactions from onlookers in the crowd, the recommendations for running while pregnant might surprise them: Most doctors allow women to continue physical exercise during pregnancy, including running, as long as no contraindications (like diabetes, a history of miscarriages, a multiple pregnancy, or heavy drinking or smoking) exist. According to Runner’s World:
Recent guidelines on exercise for pregnant women established by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend avoiding the supine position (lying on your back) after the first trimester while exercising, modifying the intensity of the exercise based on your symptoms, and not pushing to exhaustion.
And in fact, several studies point to the benefits of staying physically active while pregnant, for both mother and child. Of course, most women aren’t pushing through marathons and 39 weeks, but still: We think Miller’s decision to race should serve as a great inspiration to women who would otherwise think that pregnancy puts the kibosh on their favorite physical activities.