Tennis superstar Serena Williams understands that the level of healthcare her wealth affords her was a large part of the reason why she survived her near-death experience with post-delivery complications.
State of the art equipment and a dedicated team of highly trained medical staff saved Williams’ life. She’s feels fortunate to be alive, but she also wants to help make sure mothers all over the world, regardless of income, can get the life-saving healthcare they deserve.
The 36-year-old penned a powerful essay on CNN highlighting the plight of women not as privileged as she is and demanding global changes in maternal healthcare.
Williams’ Scary Introduction to Motherhood
Williams gave birth to her healthy baby girl Alexis Olympia last September via an emergency C-section. The Grand Slam champion was fine at first, but within 24 hours, a pulmonary embolism was detected. She knew something was wrong before her doctors did and, like many women, was forced to be her own advocate. Williams’ intense coughing undid her C-section sutures. Once doctors went to operate on her, they found a large hematoma in her abdomen. Williams’ harrowing and scary start to motherhood was also documented when doctors had to perform a procedure to prevent blood clots from traveling to her lungs.
Williams knows that the types of complications she experienced could have been fatal for other moms who do not have access to basic healthcare much less the state-of-the-art medical care Williams received.
READ MORE: Serena Williams saved her own damn life after giving birth because apparently that’s what black women have to do
Advocating for Improved Maternal Health Worldwide
In her CNN essay, Williams points out that Black women in the United States are three times more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes. She also shares stories about women in other countries.
Williams writes: “In Malawi, Mary James walked hours to reach the closest health center while she was in labor. Exhausted, she made it to the facility and gave birth, only to lose her child later that day. She picked a name for him, but he never opened his eyes. He never cried. She kept the name to herself. Sadly, Mary’s nameless son was not the only one. That same day, approximately 2,600 babies died on their first day of life.”
But Williams is not content to just talk about maternal health, she is calling on everyone to do something about it. She advocates for supporting organizations like UNICEF that offer simple solutions on behalf of every mother and newborn. These solutions include recruiting and training more doctors and midwives, guaranteeing clean and functional health facilities, making the top 10 lifesaving drugs and equipment available, and most importantly, empowering adolescent girls to demand quality care.”
Williams ends her essay on a hopeful note, stating that real change is possible with a collective effort.