World marathon champion Paula Radcliffe is used to high-pressure situations, but the birth of her baby son Raphael provided an extremely testing challenge.
The long-distance runner had experienced a marathon 27-hour labour when her daughter Isla, now three, was born, but Raphael’s birth was “a lot more traumatic.”
“He had the cord wrapped twice round his neck,” Paula, 36, told HELLO! magazine in an exclusive interview and photoshoot at her family home in Monaco.
Paula was in active labour when a doctor at Monaco’s Princess Grace hospital realised something was wrong. “He just said ‘I think you can get this baby out really fast,’” reveals Paula, whose husband and manager Gary Lough was by her side. The doctor didn’t tell her why at the time, because he didn’t want to create a panic.
Paediatricians and an extra midwife were quickly summoned to the room. “It was like a training session with them all yelling at me, “Go on,’” reveals Paula.
“It was just three pushes, but then I heard Gary go, ‘Oh my God,’ and I looked at Raphael and he was all grey,” she told HELLO!. “They whisked him away and I didn’t get to hold him at that point.”
The couple were both distraught as they couldn’t hear their newborn son cry at first. “After a couple minutes they got a resuscitation bag and inflated his lungs,” said Paula. “Then he started crying and it was just the best sound.” Little Raphael was kept in an incubator for an hour before Paula was able to hold him. He was then kept in an incubator overnight and brought to his mum when he needed feeding. He is now in perfect health.
The runner also revealed how she was going for jogs until just a few days before his birth, and has already resumed exercising. “I probably had a week completely off,” she said. “I started doing a bit of cross training, walking and pelvic floor exercises, things like that.” She also revealed that as Raphael was “sat really high” when she was pregnant with him, her waist size didn’t really change. “I could wear my normal jeans, the baggier jeans that I normally wear with a belt, even before I went in [to hospital]” she revealed.
“I’m hoping to do some running by Christmas and be back to doing normal training in January,” she added. “The big goal for me is 2012 and running a marathon some time in 2011 to qualify.”
Cheshire-born Paula, who failed to secure a medal at either the Beijing or Athens Olympics, says she has a “really, really good feeling” about 2012. She will be 38 when the London Olympics takes place. “With long distances, the extra maturity almost helps in a way,” she said. “I’ve found that as I’ve got older, my endurance gets stronger.”
SEE THE FULL EXCLUSIVE STORY IN HELLO! MAGAZINE, ISSUE 1149, OUT NOW