Serena Williams recalls agonising experience after giving birth to her daughter
The iconic athlete and new mum reveals the life-threatening conditions she had to overcome after giving birth to her daughter
Throughout her impressive career, Serena Williams has pushed her body and mind to the limit. This devotion as an athlete has earned her 23 grand slam singles and several Olympic gold medals. This same strength also came in handy as she entered motherhood because she had to overcome another difficult hurdle: life-threatening childbirth complications.
These health problems began after she gave birth to her first daughter, Alexis Olympia, through a C-section delivery.
In a cover story for the latest issue of Vogue magazine, the celebrity athlete recalls how she had trouble breathing a day after she gave birth. Doctors later found blood clots that had travelled to her lungs.
Also known as a pulmonary embolism, this dangerous condition can be fatal if not treated quickly.
Serena’s childbirth complications were likely due to her history of life-threatening blood clots
Williams has a history of blood clots. Back in 2011, she experienced difficulty breathing due to a pulmonary embolism following a cut on her foot that kept her from playing tennis for a year.
Her past bout with this life-threatening condition could have been the cause of the next complication she had to endure.
A huge blood clot (hematoma) formed after she coughed so hard that her C-section scars opened.
After a delicate operation, she was confined to bed to recover for about six weeks.
“Sometimes I get really down and feel like, man, I can’t do this,” the new mum admits in the Vogue interview. “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 letdown every time you hear the baby cry.”
“I’ve broken down I don’t know how many times,” she continues. “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.”
50,000 women suffer from childbirth complications each year
The CDC reports that 700 new mums die annually as a result of pregnancy and birth complications. Each year, 50,000 women suffer from childbirth and pregnancy complications.
99% of maternal deaths happen in developing countries, specifically in the southern part of Asia.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has named the following as some of the most common causes of Maternal Mortality:
- Severe hemorrhage (heavy bleeding after childbirth)
- Post-childbirth infections
- Pre-eclampsia and eclampsia (high blood pressure and seizures during pregnancy)
- Delivery complications
- Unsafe abortion
- Diseases like Malaria
- AIDS during pregnancy
To prevent pregnancy and childbirth complications, make sure new mums get the best prenatal care possible. This includes getting a checkup as early as possible and adopting lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, alcohol, or sticking to a good diet and exercise regimen.