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!
When my son was first born, I found myself reading every parenting book and manual. 18 months later, I rarely pick one up and try as much as possible to "parent from the gut." Where do you get your parenting information? Do you have favorite books or websites or do you find yourself winging it, like me?
I had one book, The Baby Book, that I would refer to about specifics such as how much milk or hours of sleep a baby needs. Many times I would Google topics that I wanted info on. All my research took place
while I was pumping. I always do what I feel is best for my child no matter what a book, website or other mothers say.
What's the best parenting advice that you received from your parents?
Funny... They haven't given me any!
There seems to be a huge amount of pressure on Hollywood mommies to lose baby weight and slim down immediately after the baby is born. Do you feel removed from that pressure or did /do you find yourself thinking about it? As an athlete do you have a different way of approaching weight loss and fitness or has motherhood automatically sort of lumped you in to this "must lose baby weight now" world?
I think all women feel the same about baby weight. We want it off. After having the baby I decided to take some time off. Meaning, I did not have an immediate job on TV that I had to hurry back to, which is good, as I would have been a little harder on myself to loose weight faster. I started working out 6 weeks after I had the baby and lost weight at a good rate. My son is 71/2 months old and I have another 10 pounds to go. The problem for me has been finding the energy to work as hard as I would like to.
I can remember staying at home with my son full time and feeling like it was virtually impossible to get out of sweats, let alone take a shower. How do you make time for yourself and what do you do to keep yourself feeling attractive and feminine?
I have always been pretty good at taking time to "get cute". I think all woman should take at least 5 minutes to put on some lip gloss, mascara and a good tinted moisturizer. It is so important to feel good about ourselves on a regular basis. I try to find clothes and accessories that compliment me and make me feel good.
Okay, seriously, what's messier: being in the ring (blood and bruises) or being a new mommy (spit up and poop).
Being a mommy is one of the messiest jobs ever, but I love it!
Athlete, TV star and working mother Laila Ali was interviewed by Jenny Herschko. Jenny is a Writer/Producer, and author of Perfectly Disheveled , a blog about being a new mom. Jenny studied Acting at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and worked for several years as a reality TV producer. She now spends her time writing for various parenting websites while trying to channel her former Type A, pre-baby personality.
Want to hear more from successful athlete moms like Laila Ali? Don't miss our Mommy Tracked Working Mom interview with celebrity fitness trainer Kathy Kaehler !