By peoplestaff225
Updated August 21, 2008 03:00 PM

Although she’ll hit 40 weeks the first week of September, former boxer Laila Ali says she isn’t concerned about exactly when her son makes his debut. "I don’t put a due date on the baby," she tells Pregnancy in their September issue. "Whenever he’s ready to come out."

When Curtis Muhammad is ready to be born, Laila is hoping she’s made the journey easy for him. Although the athlete and Dancing With the Stars alum has continued to work out four days a week, its been with her delivery in mind. "I do an hour of cardio on the elliptical, and then light weight-lifting, just upper body," Laila explains. "I don’t do lower body because you want your lower body to loosen up to make room for the baby to come through."

The American Gladiators host admits that she’s been pleasantly surprised at her body’s physical response to the pregnancy, saying, "I always thought I was going to gain a lot of weight because I’m a big girl naturally. I walk around at 175 lbs, I’m 5’11", and I love to eat," Laila reveals. "I thought, ‘Oh God, I’m going to be like 250 lbs and huge.’ I know a lot of women have that fear. But because I’m already a big girl, I was just imagining myself to be a giant."

More from the interview — plus additional images — when you click ‘Continue Reading.’

In discussing her decision to plan a home birth with her little boy, Laila again credits The Business of Being Born with opening her mind, saying, "I think all women kind of like to be in control, but I want to really experience [the birth]."

"Society tells you, ‘You get pregnant, you go to the hospital,’ and that was just naturally what I was going to do, but once I saw that there was another option, it just fit me," she explains. "I want to be fully present. I don’t want any medications. I just want to be in control of the situation — as much as I can be anyway."

Laila admits, "It’s not for everybody. So you have to do your research and at least be informed. Even if you don’t decide to do a home birth or work with a midwife, you can at least be aware of the fact that you have a voice at the hospital. And pick a good doctor."

As for any concerns about the actual delivery process, Laila is her usual outspoken self, laughing, "Now if I was the first woman in the world having a baby, I’d be scared to death!" However, she says she’s feeling optimistic about the situation. "I have never experienced it for myself, but I see all of these other women that I know are nowhere near as strong as I am, physically, emotionally, mentally. So if they can do it, so can I."

"There’s going to be pain," the 30-year-old says realistically. "My thing is learning the ways to reduce that pain, and be in control of yourself so you’re not making it worse and working against yourself. I feel like I have an advantage just with my mind-set and with my experiences as an athlete and knowing my body."

Laila plans to nurse Curtis Jr., although she says, "I’m not going to be … breastfeeding my 3 year old." However, she’s "definitely breastfeeding. God gave us this gift. Our bodies are made a certain way to nurture our children."

As far as what she’s been eating, Laila admits, "I’ve always had a sweet tooth and that hasn’t changed!" She does stress that it’s important not to have too much sugar, "because that’s how you end up with a big baby — so that’s a struggle for me. I’ve been told that in my third trimester it’s really important, so I’m there and I’m really trying."

Her husband Curtis Conway is already a father of three — 13-year-old twin sons Cameron and Kelton and 9-year-old daughter Leilani — but Laila will be a first-time parent with the birth of her son. So what kind of mom will she be? "Hopefully I won’t be too strict, because that’s something I could see myself doing — being too protective and strict," Laila reveals. "I hope to be patient and fair and just a good example to my kids — and consistent. I think it’s important to teach kids values and morals, how to love themselves, and how to be a leader, not a follower."

As far as the baby carrying on the boxing tradition, Laila won’t allow it! "I just don’t want my child wanting to fight, that’s all," explains the former champion boxer and daughter of Muhammad Ali. "Hopefully the boxing ends with me in this family. If he’s going to play sports, he’ll play something else. No boxing!"

Lastly, when asked by Pregnancy if there’s anything she learned from her parents that she’d like to avoid or emulate, Laila admits, "I have a lot of things I want to avoid! Some people loved everything about their parents, but I don’t know many."

Thinking back to her childhood, Laila explains that her famous father has taught her more than a few things she’d like to pass on. The great boxer "always taught us never to step on people to get ahead. He treated people with love and respect no matter what their position in life was — I learned that from him."

The final lesson she’s learned? Laila shares, "Both my parents, regardless of their faults, are good-hearted people, and that’s what’s important to me."

Source: Pregnancy, September issue. Images courtesy Pregnancy.


She also wears the Isabelle Oliver’s Wrap Cardigan in Ivory ($175).