Serena Williams Opens Up About How She Was Forced to Save Her Own Life During Childbirth

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Giving birth is an exciting, wonderful life-fulfilling moment. But let’s face it: For many women, it can be very, very scary. Even if you have a set birth plan, there are countless things that can go wrong. And even though many of those circumstances end up with a healthy baby outside of your body, the experience is simply not one size fits all for everyone.

In 2017, tennis champion of the world Serena Williams gave birth to her daughter, Olympia. And while Olympia is growing into a beautiful young lady, it was no easy road to get there. The day of her birth, where she received an emergency c-section, was nearly the day of her mother’s death.

Technically, the complications arose after she gave birth, and they were pretty terrifying. In fact, it was made even more scary due to the fact that Williams knew exactly what she needed, but the doctors and nurses ignored her requests.

The day after her surgery, Williams started to experience shortness of breath and thought she could be having a pulmonary embolism, which occurs when a blood clot gets stuck in an artery in the lungs.

Because Williams takes blood thinners, she knew this could be a side effect. In fact, she was so in tune with what she might need, she told the nurse directly that she needed to provide her a CT scan and a blood thinner stat. However, the nurse just thought the pain meds she was taking was making her loopy—so she ordered an ultrasound of her legs.

“I was like, a Doppler? I told you, I need a CT scan and a heparin drip,” Williams had told them.

When they finally did a CT scan, sure enough, they found several small blood clots in her lungs and then proceeded to treat her with blood thinners—as recommended by Williams herself.


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It gets even worse. After that situation was amended, Williams’ C-section wound opened after she was continuously coughing from the embolism. Additionally, doctors found a large hematoma in her abdomen during surgery, she had to stay in bed for six weeks after giving birth—no easy task with a newborn.

Williams opened up about her scary experience in a recent essay she wrote for Elle. She explains that she was basically responsible for saving her own life, and, after looking more into it, “black women are nearly three times more likely to die during or after childbirth than their white counterparts” in the United States.

Read her story in the essay here!

What’s the most shocking birth story you’ve ever heard?