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Woman gives birth after running Chicago Marathon

Marathrunner Amber Miller Westchester gave birth daughter June AudrMiller after completing Chicago MarathSunday. | Dan Rozek~Sun-Times Media

Marathon runner Amber Miller of Westchester gave birth to daughter June Audra Miller after completing the Chicago Marathon Sunday. | Dan Rozek~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 16, 2011 12:11PM



Amber Miller will take running a marathon over labor pains any day — but on Sunday, she mastered both.

Despite being almost 39 weeks pregnant when she hit the starting line of the Chicago Marathon, Miller ran through labor contractions and the unusually warm 77-degree day to finish the race.

She delivered a healthy daughter about 7 1/2 hours later.

“The race was definitely easier than the labor,” Miller said Monday as she cradled her 7-pound, 13-ounce newborn, June Audra Miller.

Miller, 27, a veteran marathon runner, decided to take part after getting the OK from her doctor — and because she and her husband already had signed up for the race before learning of her pregnancy.

She ran regularly through her pregnancy without any problems, but opted to play it safe Sunday by running only half the 26.2-mile course and walking the other half. Her 32-year-old husband, Joe, stayed with her to keep a close eye on her.

“I really don’t take risks. The baby comes first,” said Miller, who has completed eight marathons. “I know what I can handle.”

In fact, Sunday’s race wasn’t even her young daughter’s first marathon — Miller was 17 weeks pregnant in May when she finished the Wisconsin Marathon.

The Westchester resident competed in another marathon when she was about 17 weeks pregnant with her son, Caleb, now 19 months old.

Medical guidelines generally say that if a woman was a runner and healthy before becoming pregnant, continuing during her pregnancy is fine.

“We don’t recommend that women routinely run marathons, but obviously mom is a very experienced runner and in excellent shape,” said Dr. Jeffrey Loughead, a neonatologist at Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield, where Miller delivered her baby.

The level of exercise seldom becomes an issue during pregnancy, some experts said.

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

Some obstetricians, though, say pregnant women simply shouldn’t run marathons because they could push themselves too hard.

“Even if you were to run the race slowly, you’d still be exerting yourself for several hours,” Dr. Douglas Hall said in the book, “Runner’s World Complete Book of Women’s Running.”

Miller said she didn’t feel any ill effects from her 6-hour and 25-minute effort during the marathon, except sore feet and a few blisters. She set an easy pace, running two miles, then walking the next two — finishing three hours off her personal best for a marathon.

“I don’t feel anything from the marathon, but I do feel what’d you expect after giving birth,” she said during a Monday press conference.

She said some other racers did double takes when they noticed the visibly pregnant runner in the white T-shirt jogging along, but many offered encouraging comments.

Medical workers and race volunteers along the course seemed startled to see her.

“They were all watching me, I did notice that,” said Miller.

While she experienced some contractions during the race, she’s not sure she actually was in labor because she typically feels some contractions when she runs while pregnant.

“I don’t know if I actually was in labor during the race,” said Miller.

She figures her labor really started about 3 p.m. just after she finished the race, but she still felt well enough to grab a sandwich for lunch before driving with her husband to the hospital to deliver their baby.

“I thought I should probably get some food first,” she said.

Their daughter was born about 10:30 p.m. Sunday. She was in “excellent” health on Monday, Loughead said.

Miller, for her part, said she feels good and is looking forward to going home Tuesday with her new daughter.

“I don’t feel tired,” she said, smiling as she held the sleeping baby.

But the race and delivery really took a toll on her 32-year-old husband. He didn’t train hard, expecting his wife to miss the race because their daughter would be born first.

“I was completely exhausted,” Joe Miller said. “I was placing my bet on June being here already.”

Contributing: Associated Press



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