Pregnant Mother runs
marathon and delivers baby
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Heroes & Incredible peoples
A runner finishes a marathon and
hours later, the runner’s baby is born. Hoorah! What a day for personal
celebration, public congratulations.
By Janice D’Arcy: Amber Miller holds her baby at Central DuPage Hospital in
Winfield, Ill. Miller felt contractions a few minutes after finishing the
Chicago Marathon on Sunday and gave birth hours later to a daughter. (Mark Black
- Associated Press) The runner was a woman, a pregnant woman. She not only
finished the 26.2-mile Chicago Marathon yesterday, but did so while she was
feeling contractions. That evening, she delivered her baby girl.
Those facts turn the story into something more complex and beg the questions:
How much exercise is healthy in later stages of a pregnancy? Does anyone outside
this family unit have the right to cast judgment?
The first answer: It depends.
In Amber Miller’s case, she had been cleared by a doctor to run for half of the
race (she later said she ran and walked). The 27-year-old had run seven previous
marathons, including one earlier in this pregnancy and one during a previous
pregnancy. For her, the long-distance run was not the jolt to the body that it
would have been for the vast majority of us.
For mortals, exercising during pregnancy is now considered, in most part, to be
common medical advice is that with a doctor’s approval, running during pregnancy
is fine for women who regularly run and for those with low-risk pregnancies. If
there’s a concern that the intensity of the exercise might lead to low birth
weight, doctors usually recommend regular ultrasounds and an ample diet.
Beginning a new exercise regime or increasing intensity significantly while
pregnant is discouraged.
The second question is debatable. My answer is probably not.
Lots of people disagree. The human interest stories about Miller have mostly
been glowing and awe-filled. But much of the reaction has been negative. The
Chicago Tribune Web site fielded a barrage of criticism in response to its story
on Miller. Some readers accused her of risking stillbirth and brain damage.
This response came despite photos circulating of a beaming Miller, post-marathon
and post-delivery, with her apparently healthy infant girl born at 7 pounds 13
The distance between the two main reactions — “she’s a hero,” or “she’s a
villain” — is similar to that which defined the reaction to elite runner Paula
Radcliffe when she said she trained through her pregnancy. (She went on to win
the New York City Marathon months after delivering.)
These mothers are either the healthiest among us or the most selfish. Neither
one set out to be role models, but their actions have cast them as public
Is that fair? Do we have a right to judge how far female athletes push
themselves during pregnancy?