Nine-time Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix is no stranger to overcoming adversity. As the most decorated track-and-field athlete of all-time, she even broke Usain Bolt's record for the most gold medals in world championships history 10 months after giving birth to her daughter, Camryn, in 2018.
Since becoming a mother, she's been an advocate for Black maternal health and is incredibly candid about her terrifying experience with preeclampsia. Recently, Allyson agreed to be the keynote speaker at HeyMama's fifth annual Strong Like a Mama conference, a virtual three-day event meant to empower moms. We recently caught up with Allyson to discuss her partnership, how she's handling parenthood amid COVID-19, and what she hopes to teach Camryn about being a confident woman.
On what she wants women — particularly soon-to-be Black moms — to know about giving birth during COVID-19 . . .
A fierce advocate for maternal health, Allyson recommends that women be as prepared as possible going into the delivery room. "The biggest part for pregnant women is knowing the risks. Black women, especially, are almost four times as likely to face complications or even death during delivery," Allyson told POPSUGAR. "One of the big things that I struggled with was not knowing what signs to look for when I had a severe case of preeclampsia."
Although the birth experience can be incredibly stressful, Allyson encourages women to keep an open dialogue with their medical professionals. "Speak up to your doctor, know how to advocate for yourself, and don't be intimidated," she said. "In the state of COVID, [the risks are] even heightened, and I think it can be even harder to advocate for yourself."
On how she wants to raise Camryn . . .
Like many parents, the current political climate has made Allyson take a long, hard look at how she intends to raise her daughter. "I've thought a lot about just how I want to raise Camryn given the current climate," explained Allyson. "I want her to be strong and confident and to understand that everyone doesn't live a life like [she will]. There are so many different perspectives. I just want her to be open and to be accepting and to have a diverse group of people in her life that she can listen to. I want to be a role model for her, and I want to expose her to all of the right people and cultures."
On what she thinks busy mothers should keep in mind amid the pandemic . . .
The current state of the world has made managing the day-to-day incredibly hard for parents. While moms may be inclined to stress if they can't squeeze in a workout, Allyson suggests focusing on the silver linings.
"Be kind to yourself. Everyone is doing the best that they can," she shared. "If you're able to actually make exercise a part of your day and make it a priority, that's great. But for those days where you just can't get through [a workout], I would just say be kind. This is an amazing time that we can embrace being at home with our families. It's so important to get to the other side of it."
On how mothers can sneak in self-care right now . . .
For Allyson, weaving in moments of positivity is crucial to staying sane while at home with the family, even if it means making the most of the mere minutes of alone time. "Whenever we can take time for ourselves is amazing, and I think it looks totally different now," she shared. "Now I think that's like being able to get into a room by yourself. I practice meditation, and I've started a gratitude journal, which has been really helpful with this heavy time."
Parents who are interested in hearing more from Allyson can purchase tickets to HeyMama's fifth annual Strong Like a Mama conference, which takes place from Aug. 5 to 7. Along with listening to Allyson speak, moms can also learn from various influencers and female business leaders, participate in at-home workouts, and sit in on lectures on mindfulness and wellness.
"I'm really excited about the event because I want to share my experience as a mother, trying to balance my career and all of that," said Allyson. "I'm eager to speak and show how we're getting creative with the digital conference."