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Pregnant Marathoner Sparks Debate About Safety

By Chuck Sudo in News on Oct 11, 2011 7:00PM

the story of Amber Miller, the woman who gave birth after she completed the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, is still eliciting equal measures of "WTF?" and "we're not worthy" responses. But it also raises the question of whether it's safe for a woman to run while pregnant.

The Tribune asked that very question today. Miller said she received clearance from her doctor and no objections from race officials. Chicago was Miller's second marathon she ran during her pregnancy; she ran the Wisconsin Marathon at 17 weeks.

Here's what Runner's World says about running while pregnant:

In general, you are wise to begin running before you become pregnant because most physicians allow women to continue their pre-pregnancy routines when they are pregnant if no other contraindications—that is, reasons to think that the activity would put their health at risk—are present.

Pregnant runners also run some risks. Again, from Runner's World:

There are some health factors that would make running while pregnant inadvisable including Type I diabetes, a history of two or more miscarriages, a multiple pregnancy, smoking, and excessive alcohol intake. Other contraindications may include a history of premature labor, anemia, obesity, Type II diabetes, and a very low fitness level prior to pregnancy. For these and many other reasons, it is most important to let your physician advise you on your exercise routine throughout your pregnancy. If, for some reason, you are advised not to run during your pregnancy, remember that it is only for a relatively short period of time!

Miller told reporters she's a regular runner who has run marathons for 15 years. Her doctor (who, so far as we know, is not Dr. Leo Spaceman) advised her to stay nourished and hydrated, and to make sure she could maintain a conversation with her husband, who stayed at her side along the course. Miller has also been emphatic that she knows her body better than anyone.