CDC is pleased to announce that Allyson Felix, an elite track and field athlete and U.S. Olympian, has joined the Hear Her campaign to share her story and raise awareness about urgent warning signs that could indicate life-threatening complications during and in the year after pregnancy.
Ms. Felix was diagnosed with severe preeclampsia when she was 32 weeks pregnant. During a routine prenatal visit, test results alarmed her doctor and she was immediately admitted to the hospital. She had an emergency c-section to deliver her daughter, who spent the first month of life in the neonatal intensive care unit. Her doctor’s diagnosis and fast actions may have saved Allyson’s life.
Given her level of fitness and training, Ms. Felix felt prepared for the birth of her daughter and never imagined she would have a serious problem during pregnancy. While she experienced some symptoms, like swelling, she thought they were a normal part of pregnancy.
“Looking back, I wish I would have been better informed about potential warning signs and talked to the doctor about those symptoms,” Ms. Felix said. “I really want women to have information, to know if they’re at risk, to have a plan in place, to not be intimidated in doctor’s offices, and to feel empowered to speak up when they have concerns,”
While Ms. Felix fortunately survived her experience, not every woman does. About 700 women die in the United States each year due to complications related to pregnancy. Black women are three times more likely to die from these complications than White women. Through her involvement, Ms. Felix also seeks to raise awareness of the higher burden of poor pregnancy outcomes among Black women in hopes of generating change.
“We are delighted Allyson Felix has joined us to encourage women to speak up and ask those who support them to listen and act quickly if they raise concerns,” said Wanda Barfield, MD, director, CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health. “Allyson’s passion and dedication to improving maternal health, particularly among Black women, makes her a strong partner for this effort.”
Ms. Felix’s video story and a 30 second public service announcement are available for broadcast distribution. Graphics for social media are also available. Ms. Felix is one of several women featured in the campaign who share their story about severe pregnancy-related complications. With her involvement, CDC hopes to increase the reach and impact of the campaign’s important messages.
This campaign is supported through a partnership with the CDC Foundation and by funding from Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, through its Merck for Mothers program.
To learn more about the Hear Her campaign visit www.cdc.gov/HearHer. For a list of urgent maternal warning signs to watch for during and after pregnancy, visit Urgent Maternal Warning Signs | CDC.