Mom runs marathon, gives birth on same day
The news on Sunday that the very pregnant Amber Miller (39 weeks along) competed in the Chicago Marathon, and later that day delivered a 7 pounds, 13 ounces girl, has sparked a good debate about how much exercise is healthy for a pregnant woman. Aside from the fact that this woman finished 26.2 miles with a very respectable time of 6:25:50 -- half of it walking while feeling contractions coming on! -- people are upset at Miller for other reasons, too.
Miller said her doctor told her to stay nourished and hydrated going into the Chicago race, and to make sure she could maintain a conversation, which would help keep her from losing her breath.
Doctors recommend against strenuous exercise during pregnancy because getting a rapid heart rate could move blood and oxygen flow away from a fetus, possibly restricting its growth. Body temperature also is a concern, especially in steamy Florida. On the other hand, far too many women take that as a get-out-of-the-gym free card and spend 9 months wolfing down doughnuts with their feet propped up.
I remember when I was pregnant with my first child, Babies 'R Us started a policy of putting "Expectant Mom" parking spaces right by the front door. I mentioned it to my obstetrician and she said she better not see me using it. "I prefer my patients to walk -- a lot -- while they are pregnant," she told me. "That's a much healthier way to go."
Even some doctors are raising eyebrows at Miller's decision, but others point out she wasn't your average patient. "This was OK for her," said Jim Pivarnik, a professor at Michigan State University who has studied exercise in pregnancy for 25 years, in a Time magazine article. "She was training that kind of mileage all the way to 38 weeks. She only ran half of it, and her doctor gave her permission. She had no dizziness, bleeding or cramping. It was standard operating procedure for her."
Pivarnik noted that U.S. physical activity guidelines call for 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week for the average American. Pregnant women can do the same thing. "If you haven't been doing something more intense, this is not the time to start."
So what do you say, foolish woman or inspiration?
--Sharon Kennedy Wynne
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PHOTO: Amber Miller, of Westchester, Ill., gestures during a news conference as she holds her baby at Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield, Ill., Monday Oct. 10, 2011. Miller felt contractions a few minutes after finishing the Chicago Marathon on Sunday and gave birth hours later to a baby daughter. At left are her husband, Joe, and son, Caleb. Photo: Daily Herald, Mark Black / AP