Serena Williams is sharing details about her complicated delivery and the struggles black women endure over the course of their pregnancies.
Serena Williams may be a tennis pro, but that doesn’t mean her pregnancy was a Grand Slam. On Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, Serena William published an open letter on CNN that detailed the trauma the tennis star endured following the delivery of her daughter, Olympia Ohanian, in Sept. 2017.
In the essay, Williams shared how her birth took a turn for the worse when she became short of breath during the delivery. Williams, who has a scary history of battling a pulmonary embolism, was led to an emergency surgery immediately after giving birth. Although Serena knew the care she needed, she admits to having had a hard time getting through to her nurses.
Serena Williams was lucky in this instance, but her story caused a conversation on social media about what so many other pregnant black women in America deal with in regards to hospitals and doctors during and after giving birth. According to EliteDaily, if you are a black woman giving birth in the United States, you’re automatically at a three times greater risk to die in the delivery room than white counterparts.
This scary statistic shared by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention means that black women are 243 percent more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women. Williams took the opportunity to share this frightening information in her essay and mentioned how lucky she was to have had “an incredible medical team of doctors and nurses at a hospital with state-of-the-art equipment.” She pointed out, however, that she realizes that not every woman in the United States is as lucky.
The tennis champion is creating ripples with this conversation, sparking many to do research of their own. It is known that when black women enter the hospital to deliver, there are an endless list of racial biases working against them.
One of the main reasons is through biases by nurses and doctors who claim black women “do not know what they’re talking about,” and Serena Williams is not having any of that. Williams shared her own story where a nurse blamed many of her concerns on her being “confused from pain medication,” silencing the new mom right there and then.
William’s story, like so many other black mothers’ stories, truly shows the ongoing issues they must face during a time that is meant to be magical. We’re glad to see Serena using her platform and her own experience to further educate those on the discrimination and unconscious biases put against black women in America.