Serena Williams' Blood Clot After Childbirth: How Does It Happen?

Serena Williams' Blood Clot After Childbirth: How Does It Happen?

Still, they worry about raising their child in their unique lives. The surgery went well, Serena's husband Alexis cut the chord and the couple's tiny newborn was laid on Serena's chest for the first time.

In an open letter to her mother, Oracene Price, Williams revealed that she has "been called a man", accused of taking performance-enhancing drugs, and told that she didn't belong in women's sports.

But then, Serena says, everything went terribly wrong.

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The next day, while recovering in the hospital, Serena suddenly felt short of breath. The nurse thought her pain medicine might be making her confused. When Williams further insisted on treatment, a doctor instead performed an ultrasound of her legs.

She recalled: "I was like, a Doppler?" The scan showed that several small blood clots had settled in her lungs. Minutes later she was on the drip.

Williams, 36, played an exhibition match in Abu Dhabi late last month but pulled out of next week's Australian Open, saying she was "super close" but not at the level needed to compete.

Former world number one Serena Williams has virtually cemented herself as one of the greatest players to grace a tennis court, but having a baby may shift her to another gear.

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Williams' harrowing childbirth story has ignited a conversation about the high rates of maternal mortality and birth complications in the United States, which black women face at an alarmingly disproportionate rate.

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Watch out folks, we certainly haven't seen the last of Serena...

And this risk doesn't go away immediately after a woman gives birth - her risk for blood clots remains elevated for about six weeks after giving birth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "It's been long-established that black women... fare worse in pregnancy and childbirth, dying at a rate more than triple that of white mothers". For those in some rural and urban areas, the situation is even direr.

The very next day after giving birth though, Williams had another emergency.

Recently in Washington DC two maternity wards closed, which public health officials fear will endanger the lives of low-income women in the city. Another surgery followed to have a filter inserted into a major vein, which would prevent more clots from dislodging and traveling into her lungs. Even bad-ass women like Serena. As a follow-up several months later, ProPublica and NPR published a host of similar tales of near-misses from educated women who nearly died due to pregnancy complications. Williams now has 23, but she is aware of what's in the record books and wants to win 25.

Being in bed instead of really enjoying your baby right after they're born wasn't an ideal situation and something that Williams admitted really tested her. Williams was able to discuss the trauma of her birth experience from the safety of her living room, but many other American women, especially those also of color, nearly certainly would not have had the same experience.

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