Serena Williams has told how her experience of health complications after she gave birth to daughter Olympia has made her stronger. The tennis champion shared her story in the
February issue of US Vogue, and it has also sparked discussions about race in maternal healthcare.
Serena took to Facebook yesterday to share her concerns and thank followers for their response to her sharing her story.
"I didn't expect that sharing our family's story of Olympia's birth and all of [my] 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," she wrote in the caption of an adorable video of four-month- old Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.
Serena shared the shocking statistic that, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), black women are three to four times more likely to suffer a pregnancy-related death than white women in the US.
"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," Serena wrote. "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."
The CDC reports women in the US are more likely to die during childbirth or from pregnancy-related causes than women in other high-income countries.
Serena was bed-ridden for six weeks after Olympia's birth, recovering from several blood clots that settled on her lungs, and a caesarean wound that opened up.
"My personal experience was not great but it was MY experience and I'm happy it happened to me," she wrote on Facebook. It made me stronger and it made me appreciate women – both women with and without kids – even more. We are powerful!"
Serena also said she was grateful for the incredible public reaction to the Vogue story.
"I want to thank all of you who have opened up through online comments and other platforms to tell your story. I encourage you to continue to tell those stories," she wrote.
"This helps. We can help others. Our voices are our power."