Serena Williams Advocates For Better Health Care for Pregnant Black Women

Serena Williams

Serena Williams Advocates For Better Health Care for Pregnant Black Women


UPDATE (01/15/18 4.12 p.m. ET)

Serena Williams says childbirth made her ''stronger'' after suffering severe health complications after having her baby Alexis Olympia. 

She shared on Facebook, ''I didn't expect that sharing our family's story of Olympia's birth and all of complications after giving birth would start such an outpouring of discussion from women — especially black women — who have faced similar complications and women whose problems go unaddressed.

''These aren't just stories: according to the CDC, black women are over 3 times more likely than White women to die from pregnancy — or childbirth-related causes.

"We have a lot of work to do as a nation and I hope my story can inspire a conversation that gets us to close this gap.

''Let me be clear: EVERY mother, regardless of race, or background deserves to have a healthy pregnancy and childbirth. 

"I personally want all women of all colors to have the best experience they can have.

"My personal experience was not great but it was MY experience and I'm happy it happened to me.

"It made me stronger and it made me appreciate women — both women with and without kids — even more. We are powerful!!! [sic]''

ORIGINAL (01/10/18 1.33 p.m. ET)

Serena Williams has revealed she suffered a string of serious health issues during and after giving birth to her daughter.

The 36-year-old and her husband Alexis Ohanian welcomed daughter Alexis Olympia, who is known by her middle name, into the world in September.

After the baby's heart rate started to drop, Serena had to have an emergency Cesarean section, and though it went well, things quickly went ''bad."

The tennis star was bedridden for 6 weeks after suffering from blood clots on her lungs.

Serena previously suffered a pulmonary embolism in 2011 so recognised the signs when she began to feel short of breath.

She requested a CT scan and blood thinning medication, but a nurse thought her medication might have left her confused, so called for a doctor, who performed an ultrasound of her legs.

When the ultrasound showed nothing, Serena was sent for a CT scan, which showed several small blood clots on her lungs and she was quickly placed on a drip.

Serena Williams Alexis Ohanian

She spoke to Vogue magazine about her ordeal after appearing on the front cover with her baby daughter. 

As well as the blood clots, Serena's C-section wound opened because of the intense coughing spells the pulmonary embolism had caused.

When she returned to surgery, doctors discovered a large hematoma had flooded her abdomen after the blood thinner she was taking caused hemorrhaging.

She was then sent for further surgery, to have a filter inserted into a major vein to stop more blood clots dislodging and travelling to her lungs, and she wasn't allowed home from hospital until a week later.

Credit: Instagram    

Husband Alexis said of the time, ''I was happy to change diapers, but on top of everything she was going through, the feeling of not being able to help made it even harder.

"Consider for a moment that your body is one of the greatest things on this planet, and you're trapped in it.''

And Serena admitted the first few months of motherhood have been more emotional than she'd expected.

Serena Williams
Credit: Instagram    

She said, ''Sometimes I get really down and feel like, Man, I can't do this.

''It's that same negative attitude I have on the court sometimes. I guess that's just who I am.

"No one talks about the low moments — the pressure you feel, the incredible let down every time you hear the baby cry.

"I've broken down I don't know how many times.

''Or I'll get angry about the crying, then sad about being angry, and then guilty, like, 'Why do I feel so sad when I have a beautiful baby?'

"The emotions are insane.''

Serena is also getting help from her mom Oracene, who says the way she parents is similar to how she is on the tennis court. 

"She'a always been that way, ever since she was a little girl," she told Vogue.

My heartbeats photo

A post shared by Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) on

"She's going to need to learn to slow down. She's responsible for another life now." 

We wish Serena and her husband all the best with their new daughter.