Being an athlete definitely helped prepare fighter Laila Ali for pregnancy and delivery, but no amount of training could prepare her for the daily grind of motherhood. Daughter to the legendary Muhammad Ali, Laila's found her footing as a new mom by trusting her instincts and leaning on her husband, former NFL player Curtis Conway for support. When she's not showing off her grace on the dance floor (Laila made it to the finals of ABC's "Dancing With the Stars"), or co-hosting NBC's "American Gladiators," Laila Ali is most certainly at home, spending time with her 8 month old son CJ. In today's Spotlight Interview, Laila opens up to contributor Jenny Herschko on birth plans gone awry, baby weight, and taking the time to look "cute."
Other than full time Mommyhood, what projects are you working on right now?
Being mommy comes first right now. I have been doing a lot of charity work and public service with organizations such as The Women's Sports Foundation, Feeding America and the LA Food Bank, and the California Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Sport.
How did being an athlete help you physically during your pregnancy? Do you feel like it helped condition you for labor and delivery?
Being an athlete prepared my mindset for pregnancy and labor. I knew it was not going to be easy but I made sure I did what I needed to to prepare myself, body and mind for success. I ate right, worked out regularly and conditioned my mind to stay relaxed through the entire experience. I was very confident in my own capabilities as a woman and mother which kept me at ease.
Did you have a birth plan or a certain idea of the way you'd labor/deliver with Curtis Jr.? Did the labor/delivery go according to plan?
I planned to have a natural home birth but I ended up having to go to the hospital. My son's birth did not go according to my initial Plan A. But Plan B was that I do what ever necessary to make sure he was born healthy. Plan B worked out great!
In the beginning, I know you were hesitant to hire "help" (nannies, babysitters, etc), has that changed at all?
I did not have any help with my son other than my husband until he was about 4 months. When I felt the time was right, I accepted the help of a close friend of mine who comes 3 days a week for 4 hours. Now CJ is almost eight months and the schedule is pretty much the same.
On your website, you talked about how challenging breastfeeding is (I couldn't agree more, btw!), Would you say it's even more challenging and even painful than your toughest fight or opponent?
It is hard to compare the two. While breastfeeding, the only thing that kept me going was knowing that it was what was best for my son. In the ring, I fought because I enjoyed it so I could never complain!