At Safe Motherhood Week, our goal is to highlight the inequalities in care and support that pregnant women receive across the globe. A major ambassador for safe motherhood this year has been the athlete Serena Williams. We highlighted earlier this year how Serena has opened up about complications she experienced after giving birth to her daughter in 2017.
Williams underwent a traumatic emergency Caesarean section, and also nearly died as a result of blood clots in her lungs following the birth.
“I almost died after giving birth to my daughter, Olympia,” she wrote.
Williams said her pregnancy had been smooth but after childbirth is when her issues begun. “First my C-section wound popped open due to the intense coughing I endured as a result of the embolism. I returned to surgery, where the doctors found a large hematoma, a swelling of clotted blood, in my abdomen. And then I returned to the operating room for a procedure that prevents clots from traveling to my lungs.”
Williams also highlighted the discrepancies between black and white women when it comes to maternal mortality in the US, as well as the global problem of inadequate maternal health care.
“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, black women in the United States are over three times more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes. But this is not just a challenge in the United States. Around the world, thousands of women struggle to give birth in the poorest countries. When they have complications like mine, there are often no drugs, health facilities or doctors to save them. If they don’t want to give birth at home, they have to travel great distances at the height of pregnancy.”
Williams has been eager to bring this discussion into the public domain, urging her social media followers to share their stories.
“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,” wrote Williams.
“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!”
She has continued to use her platform to speak about motherhood and the many challenges it can bring.
“I talk about the struggles all of us moms feel. It’s is so important to spread the knowledge,” she says.
Who is your motherhood hero? During this Safe Motherhood Week, share your personal story of motherhood with us using the hashtag #makemotherhoodcount.