New mom credits running for healthy pregnancy

Amanda Huneke recalls the conversation she had with her husband back in October just days before the Shore A.C. 5K cross-country race in Monmouth County.

"I came up to him a few days before and I said, 'Would it be crazy if I did this at our favorite park, Holmdel Park, at nine months' pregnant?'" Amanda said.

The then-mommy-to-be ended up doing the race. 

"Once I got out there, I actually felt really good," Amanda said. "I was passing people in the second half."

Baby and mommy made it to the finish line in 22:42, good enough for fourth place in the women's division. 

"The next day, I went out and I ran six miles," she said.

That night, Amanda started having contractions. She rushed to the hospital and in 40 minutes little Hudson, a healthy baby boy, was born. 

Amanda, 33, has been running since she was 14. She won back-to-back cross-country championships at Villanova and competed in the U.S. Olympic marathon trials in 2012, 2016, and 2020. 

She never stopped running, not even when she learned she was pregnant. Amanda said her doctor encouraged her to keep active throughout her nine months of pregnancy. Running actually made her feel better and less sluggish and tired, she said. 

"I kind of reeled back the pace," Amanda said. "As I started to get to 20 weeks, 25 weeks the pace reeled itself back for me."

Hackensack University Medical Center's Dr. Abdulla Al-Khan, who is not Amanda's doctor, said that exercising during pregnancy is good for both the mother and fetus.

"Exercise is crucial in increasing metabolism. It enhances cardiovascular circulation," Al-Khan said. "And the same thing also, it helps with placental circulation."

As for whether Amanda's smooth and speedy delivery had anything to do with her being so active and running a race the day before, Al-Khan said there isn't medical evidence to back that yet.

"I hope we could take Amanda's case and scientifically validate this if there is any real correlation between strenuous activity and ease of birth and ease of labor," Al-Khan said.

Hudson is only six weeks old, which means Amanda has not been cleared to run again. She has been taking strolls with her baby on the boardwalk in Asbury Park but said she will lace up again once her doctor gives her the all clear.