Allyson Felix is speaking out about the death of her U.S. Olympic teammate Tori Bowie from complications of childbirth.

For Felix, Bowie’s death highlights the urgent need for better maternal health care for Black women.

“I hate that it takes Tori’s situation to put this back on the map and to get people to pay attention to it. But oftentimes, we need that wake-up call,” Felix said in a first-person essay for Time magazine.

Bowie was approximately eight months pregnant and in labor when she died, according to an autopsy report. Possible complications contributing to her death may have included respiratory distress and eclampsia.

In her Time essay, Felix details her own childbirth experience, including how she developed preeclampsia while pregnant with her daughter and required an emergency C-section.

“I was unsure if I was going to make it. If I was ever going to hold my precious daughter,” she wrote. While she had developed swelling in her feet, which is a sign of preeclampsia, Felix had no idea what to watch for, she wrote.

Eclampsia is characterized by one or more seizures during pregnancy or during the postpartum period, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The condition develops from preeclampsia, which causes pregnant women to suddenly develop high blood pressure and other complications.

Studies have found that American-born Black women have a higher risk for developing preeclampsia. According to the CDC, the maternal death rate for Black women in the United States in 2021 was 69.9 deaths per 100,000 births, which is 2.6 times higher than the rate of maternal death among white women.

“Like so many Black women, I was unaware of the risks I faced while pregnant,” Felix wrote. “Not once did someone say, ‘oh, well, that’s one of the indicators of preeclampsia.’ None of us knew. When I became pregnant, my doctor didn’t sit me down and tell me, ‘these are things that you should look for in your pregnancy, because you are at a greater risk to experience these complications.’”

And Felix isn’t the only one. Beyoncé developed preeclampsia during pregnancy. In giving birth to daughter Olympia, Serena Williams developed near-death complications, including blood clots in her lungs. And another Olympic teammate of both Bowie and Felix’s, Tianna Madison, went into labor early and delivered at 26 weeks.

“As of June 2023…3 of the 4 members of Team USA’s 4x100m relay team…who ran the SECOND fastest time in history, and brought home THEE gold medal…have nearly died or did die in childbirth,” Madison wrote on Twitter. “We deserve better. #BlackMaternalHealthCrisis”

The lack of education, Felix wrote, “needs to change now, especially in light of Tori’s tragic passing.”

“The medical community must do its part,” she wrote. “There are so many stories of women dying who haven’t been heard. Doctors really need to hear the pain of Black women.”

There have been steps toward change. In May, legislation titled the Momnibus Act was introduced in Congress. A package of 13 bills, it was crafted to “eliminate racial disparities in maternal health and improve outcomes across the board.” Back in 2021, California passed similar legislation, which makes investments in areas including housing, nutrition and transportation for underserved communities. Pharmaceutical companies are also looking into early detection and treatment of preeclampsia.

Still, while Felix would love to have another child, she is concerned about being alive to raise it amid what she calls a “Black Maternal Health crisis.”

“This is America, in 2023, and Black women are dying while giving birth. It’s absurd,” she wrote. “I’m hopeful that things can get better. I’m hopeful that Tori, who stood on the podium at Rio, gold around her neck and sweetness in her soul, won’t die in vain.”

World champion sprinter and three-time Olympic medalist Tori Bowie died from childbirth complications while in labor, according to an autopsy report.

Her agent Kimberly Holland confirmed the findings of the report from the Orange County Medical Examiner Office, which was obtained by multiple news outlets. Bowie had a “well developed fetus” and was estimated to be eight months pregnant at the time of her death in May, per the report.

Bowie’s complications may have included respiratory distress and eclampsia, a condition in which a person can develop seizures or go into a coma during pregnancy following a sudden spike in high blood pressure, per the report.

“Eclampsia typically occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy. It’s rare and affects less than 3% of people with preeclampsia. Eclampsia can cause complications during pregnancy and requires emergency medical care,” according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Studies have shown that Black women in the United States have a greater risk of preeclampsia. Allyson Felix, an Olympic teammate of Bowie’s, had to undergo an emergency C-section due to severe preeclampsia.

Star tennis player Serena Williams also had pregnancy complications. She had to have a C-section with daughter Olympia after developing blood clots in her lungs and a hematoma in her abdomen.

“In the U.S., Black women are nearly three times more likely to die during or after childbirth than their white counterparts,” Williams wrote in a first-person essay for Elle. “Many of these deaths are considered by experts to be preventable.”

Bowie was found dead in her home on May 2 after Orange County Sheriff deputies conducted a welfare check following reports that a woman in her early 30s “had not been seen or heard from in several days.” The medical examiner ruled her manner of death as natural.

“We’ve lost a client, dear friend, daughter and sister,” Icon Management, which represented Bowie, said in a Twitter statement. “Tori was a champion…a beacon of light that shined so bright! We’re truly heartbroken and our prayers are with the family and friends.”

A program provided at Bowie’s funeral service on May 13 said she was preceded in death by a daughter, according to the New York Times. An official at the Orange County medical examiner’s office confirmed a “baby Bowie” but declined to provide further information.

Holland told the New York Times that Bowie had “backed away” in recent years.

“But she always found her way back because of the bond we had,” she said, noting that Bowie had been excited about the pregnancy. She had made plans to go to Atlanta so that Holland could help her raise the baby.

“It was one of the best conversations we’ve had in a long time,” Holland said Monday. “We just giggled like schoolgirls, we laughed so hard my stomach was hurting.”

A member of Team USA, Bowie won gold at the 2016 Olympics as a member of the 4×100-meter relay team. She also won silver in the 100 and bronze in the 200 at those Games. In 2017, she added another relay gold at the World Athletics Championships, and she won individual gold in the 100.