Allyson Felix just broke Usain Bolt's record—a mere 10 months after giving birth

Many moms lament how long it takes to "get their bodies back" after giving birth, and most of us find it more of a distant wish than a doable reality. Who knew that building a human practically from scratch and then extracting it from your body would take its toll?

However, one mama has turned that notion on its head completely. After winning her 12th World Championship gold medal in the mixed-gender 4x400m relay, runner Allyson Felix has beaten the gold medal count record she co-held with Usain Bolt. But the real kicker? She did it just 10 months after giving birth to a premature baby via emergency c-section.


There are not enough superlatives to describe how freaking badass this is.

RELATED: 3 moms recorded their first weeks home with a newborn. It got real — real quick.

During her pregnancy, Felix developed severe preeclampsia (also known as toxemia), a condition marked by excessively high blood pressure and a posing a host of dangers for both mom and baby. According to NBC Sports, Felix ended up delivering her daughter Camryn via c-section on November 28, 2018, at 32 weeks. Born at 3 pounds, 7 ounces, Camryn then spent 29 days in the NICU.

So not only did this 33-year-old Olympic champion recover from a complicated pregnancy and birth and go through the difficulties of having a baby in intensive care, she got herself in good enough shape to break a world record in her sport less than a year later. Unreal.

All the standing ovations for this mama.

On a related note, Felix was part of a group of female athletes who went to battle over their sponsorship negotiations with Nike after becoming pregnant. Felix wrote in a NY Times op-ed in May that the company had wanted to pay her less after she became pregnant. She wrote:

Despite all my victories, Nike wanted to pay me 70 percent less than before. If that's what they think I'm worth now, I accept that.

What I'm not willing to accept is the enduring status quo around maternity. I asked Nike to contractually guarantee that I wouldn't be punished if I didn't perform at my best in the months surrounding childbirth. I wanted to set a new standard. If I, one of Nike's most widely marketed athletes, couldn't secure these protections, who could?

Nike declined. We've been at a standstill ever since.

Felix ended up dropping her Nike deal and signed with Athleta in July. Nike's loss, Athleta's gain. After fierce backlash over the issue, Nike announced in August that it had changed its policy so that female athletes would not "adversely impacted financially for pregnancy" for 18 months—six months longer than its previous policy.

RELATED: Sweden's parental leave laws have revolutionized the lives of moms.

While Felix's performance 10 months after giving birth is remarkable, it also shouldn't be the expected standard. Felix said she "felt pressure to return to form as soon as possible" after her daughter was born, despite the complications in her pregnancy and birth.

Just the act of growing and delivering a baby is a physical feat that deserves praise and admiration. A study on the limits human endurance found that pregnancy demands the same energy levels as an ultramarathon. Seriously.

The truth is that all moms are amazing, whether or not they are smashing gold medal records 10 months after giving birth. And that undeniable truth is what makes Allyson Felix breaking her and Usain Bolt's record all the more impressive.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

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Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

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