Olympic Gold Medalist Allyson Felix Says Doctors Should Open Up To Women Of Color About Risks Before They Give Birth

by Gee NY

Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix is using her platform to shed light on the urgent need for changes in the medical community to ensure pregnant women of color receive proper care and advice.

The 38-year-old track and field star, who became an advocate for Black moms after her traumatic birth experience in 2018, recently discussed the disparities in maternal care during an interview on “Meet the Press” with Kristen Welker.

Felix, who received a preeclampsia diagnosis during her pregnancy in 2018, expressed her disappointment at not being informed about the higher rates of childbirth complications that affect women of color.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than White women. Speaking about her own experience, Felix said:

“I felt like I should’ve known that I was at risk. I felt like I should’ve been told the signs to look for. Instead, I wasn’t. I didn’t know what preeclampsia was. I didn’t understand that the swelling in my feet is just not simply a sign of pregnancy, but could be preeclampsia.”

Preeclampsia is a serious blood pressure condition that can develop during pregnancy.

Felix said it was important for doctors to provide more information about signs and symptoms to pregnant women and advise them to monitor their blood pressure. She recounted her own severe preeclampsia and the rapid progression that led to the delivery of her baby, stating that timely action was crucial for the safety of both herself and her child.

The conversation also touched on the tragic death of Felix’s relay teammate, Tori Bowie, who passed away at the age of 32 while about eight months pregnant.

The autopsy report indicated that Bowie was undergoing labor at the time of her death, listing respiratory distress and eclampsia as possible complications.

Felix described her friend’s death as “absolutely devastating” and highlighted the ongoing Black maternal mortality crisis. She reiterated the need for more implicit bias training in the medical community, citing numerous stories of women not being heard during delivery and doctors’ appointments.

Felix stressed that women should not have to feel prepared to advocate for themselves and called for policy changes to address systemic issues.

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