Olympian Allyson Felix’s “Birth Squad” Emphasizes the Importance of Representation

Black and white photo of a smiling woman holding her newborn baby with two doctors.

The successful birth (via VBAC) of Olympian Allyson Felix, performed by an OB-GYN physician, was a wonderful way to end Black Maternal Awareness Week and invoked good memories of a time when OB was a happy specialty and giving birth was a joyful experience.

I could write a chapter, perhaps even a book, about Allyson Felix’s experience, but I won’t. However, please note the following points that she makes:

  • 🩺🤰🏾 Her ob-gyn physician and doula looked like her, emphasizing the importance of representation in the healthcare workforce. Racial concordance improves outcomes, period.
  • 🎓👩‍⚕️ Her doula was a nurse practitioner with a doctorate. This means she was well-trained as a nurse with advanced clinical training.
  • 🧘‍♀️👶 Allyson and her doula used the HypnoBabies method to eliminate the use of pain medication.

While I readily admit that I do not know the HypoBabies method to eliminate labor pain, I thoroughly believe in the mind-body connection based on my own experiences as someone who has bilateral macula holes in my eyes that my retinal specialist states should have resulted in blindness. Yet, I still see (and gratefully, I might add). It was unconventional wisdom, prayer, and eye supplements that saved my sight.

Just like death, birth is mysterious and unique to each individual. I encourage my OB-GYN scholars, policymakers, and researchers to embrace innovation rather than dismiss it. We can equally learn new things from our patients, just as they learn new things from us.

The birth of Allyson Felix’s son is a cause for celebration and evidence of an answered prayer. It is also evidence that the culture of birth is shifting whether the “powers that be” like it or not.


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