Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

Allyson Felix addresses Black maternal health on ‘Meet the Press’

On “Meet the Press with Kristen Welker,” Allyson Felix called for more implicit bias training and policy change to address Black maternal health.

Felix, an 11-time Olympic sprint medalist who retired last year, said she didn’t know what preeclampsia was before she was diagnosed with the life-threatening pregnancy condition in November 2018, which led to her emergency C-section childbirth at 32 weeks.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report in 2021 stated that Black women had a maternal mortality rate that was 2.6 times higher than for white women. Data from 2017-19 showed that more than 80% of pregnancy-related deaths were preventable.

Felix was asked what she wished doctors had told her.

MORE: Allyson Felix discusses life in retirement

“As a woman of color, that I’m already at a greater risk for these complications,” she said. “What are the signs? What can I do to help this not happen? And also, I should be taking my blood pressure at a certain point. So just being educated and being aware is huge.”

Felix, who turned 33 during her first pregnancy, said she didn’t know that her feet swelling could have been a sign of preeclampsia.

“I felt like I had great medical care, but that’s not always enough,” she said. “Because I had severe features of preeclampsia, they were in constant worry of me having a stroke, of my vision being lost.”

Felix has been a Black maternal health advocate for years since having daughter Camryn. In May 2019, she testified at a House of Representatives Ways & Means Committee hearing on overcoming racial disparities and social determinants in the maternal mortality crisis.

On May 2 of this year, Tori Bowie, who was on the 2016 Olympic 4x100m relay with Felix, was found dead with an autopsy later revealing she died from complications of childbirth. After that, Tianna Madison, a third member of that Olympic champion quartet, posted that she nearly died in 2021 childbirth.

“This is the reality of Black women giving birth in America,” Felix said when asked about Bowie. “And there are so many situations that are like this. And so I hate that it takes such a devastating loss to bring it back to the forefront. But it also is just such a motivation that we have to do better.”

Felix recently announced that she is pregnant with her second child. She is also a candidate to be elected onto the IOC Athletes’ Commission, where she already serves in an appointed role. If elected, she would be in line to become the third American IOC member.