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Serena Williams - ignored by Doctors

(39 Posts)
IndominusRex Thu 11-Jan-18 15:27:11

That such a rich, successful woman, whose body is her tool, was refused treatment and not listened to by doctors post partum says a lot about how the medical profession treats women, especially black women.

IndominusRex Thu 11-Jan-18 15:27:56


fuzzywuzzy Thu 11-Jan-18 15:33:34

That makes shocking reading.

After I had dd a midwife noticed I was really out of breath and I was pretty much immediately surrounded by doctors and nurses all checking to make sure I wasn’t unwell.

I was prescribed a course of blood thinners as I had a number of markers that put me at risk of suffering a blood clot.

But then the hospital I attended lost three mothers a few years back and had a complete overhaul of their anti natal department.

I’m shocked that the doctors refused to listen to Serena.
Especially if she had the baby in America she’s paying for it all!

Oblomov18 Thu 11-Jan-18 15:57:17

Good reading rather than All this : 'it was a breeze and I sprung back into shape in 3 weeks nonsense'.

PricklyBall Thu 11-Jan-18 16:07:47

Horrific to read about her symptoms being dismissed by the medical professionals - even when she told them exactly what was wrong and that she knew because she'd suffered from it before!

But hooray to read a really prominent and successful woman talk about the reality of motherhood (it may be that it's striking a particular chord with me, because I could have written that bit about "I have a beautiful baby, why am I crying?"). And hooray for feeling pissed off about the limitations of biology (as well as the wonders of it). I felt like it was years before I got my body back. Obviously not a pro tennis player or in any situation where it mattered, but little things like the fact that it took my vocal cords about 3 years to recover from the acid reflux - and I've never been able to sing quite as well as I used to be able to.

IndominusRex Thu 11-Jan-18 16:14:44

Yes Prickly it's great that she's shared this isn't it. It will help so many women both to speak up and to be reassured.

Renfrewshire Thu 11-Jan-18 18:59:04

Yes it's crazy to think you are paying for the doctors to ignore you (in the US).

I wonder how much she had to push before the doctors did something, or whether they eventually thought "let's check this". A less assertive woman would probably not be alive to talk about it.

OlennasWimple Thu 11-Jan-18 20:57:16

I bloody love Serena Williams

tribpot Thu 11-Jan-18 21:02:29

Samantha Bee has just covered the fact that maternal care in the US is dreadful - infant mortality is low but maternal mortality is the highest in the Western world - and it's increasing, which is a shocking statistic.

Jaygee61 Thu 11-Jan-18 21:02:54

I went off her bit when she said before having the baby that giving birth would make her a real woman.

Undercoverbanana Thu 11-Jan-18 21:08:47

Jaygee61 - I think that's what happens when a woman is criticised for having a muscular physique. Over the years it has probably got in her head. She is fucking awesome. I love her.

PricklyBall Thu 11-Jan-18 21:13:13

Wow, the graph on that link is so shocking, tribpot. I'm going to paste it in here just so people can see it.

PricklyBall Thu 11-Jan-18 21:13:54

(The y axis is maternal deaths per 100,000 births).

Stopmakingsense Thu 11-Jan-18 21:33:57

That graph is utterly shocking

tribpot Thu 11-Jan-18 21:43:34

From the World Health Organisation, the factors are:

- lack of standard obstetric care with emergencies being identified too late
- underlying health problems which aren't being managed in primary care (because these women are uninsured)
- lack of clear data and oversight.

The Affordable Care Act included maternal care as an essential health benefit - so it's farewell to all that now, anyway.

Sorry - something of a thread derailment but it does sound as if, even with money no object (and the US spends more on maternal care than anywhere else in the world) Serena Williams' case was mishandled.

Jaygee61 Thu 11-Jan-18 21:48:06

Jaygee61 - I think that's what happens when a woman is criticised for having a muscular physique. Over the years it has probably got in her head. She is fucking awesome. I love her.

Undercoverbanana it didn’t sound like that to me. What she actually said was

“I think [giving birth] will give me more strength, if that’s possible,” she told the newspaper. “I feel like I will be ready for anything. I have so much respect for so many women [for giving birth].

“I am about to be a real woman now, you know? It’s going to be something incredibly impressive to go through.”

Yes giving birth is amazing but it doesn’t mean that women who haven’t or can’t do it are weak and unimpressive and not real women.

Terrylene Fri 12-Jan-18 13:41:42

I agree with Undercoverbanana on this one. Serena Williams has had life experience outside that of most women for pretty much her entire life. It has been very tennis focussed all of that time, and she has been pilloried in the press for a long time for playing like a man, having muscles like a man, not playing as many sets in a match as men do, blah blah blah (and when she has played against a man, she did good but was definitely a woman)

So I take what she said in that context. It sounds like she is doing something that she really wants and feels connected. Not that she is dissing other women.

It is a shame that, with plenty of money and living in a 1st world country that has everything, that she also gets to experience the crap side of giving birth.

Jaygee61 Fri 12-Jan-18 14:25:24

I think It's a shame that with all she has achieved she felt she had to give birth in order to feel validated as a woman. That's not a very feminist attitude.

IndominusRex Fri 12-Jan-18 14:25:47

Blimey that graph!

AndhowcouldIeverrefuse Fri 12-Jan-18 14:28:47

Me too Olenna - she's a great role model.

pallisers Fri 12-Jan-18 14:29:27

This was on NPR recently.

For what it is worth, I am white but no one noticed I was haemorraging after birth (in the US). all medics left the room. Luckily dh noticed my blood pressure was crashing.

hackmum Fri 12-Jan-18 16:57:23

I think Serena Williams's experience of not being listened to is incredibly common. That bit about the nurse thinking she was confused because of her pain meds made me seethe.

Interestingly, the reason for her illness was a pre-existing health problem, which apparently is the main cause of high maternal mortality rates in the US. Not everyone's a fan of the Skeptical OB (be warned - she can be robust in her views) but she has a good post about it here:

Mamaka Fri 12-Jan-18 18:08:49

That NPR article is heartbreaking.

UpABitLate Fri 12-Jan-18 18:21:18

Saw this yesterday, not much a of sleb spotter but thought what a lovely pic on the cover and what a great article. I really liked the end where she said she's so glad she had a girl and will teach her to be unstoppable (or similar).

Shocking that the medics didn't listen to her I mean wtf? She will have the most expensive care money can buy, she's a massive superstar, if they don't listen to her that's pretty bloody telling isn't it.

Great stuff overall though.

Mamaka Fri 12-Jan-18 18:22:52

Actually I have my own story - I'm not black but I was young when I had my first and living in a socially "deprived" area (UK) and knew that the health care providers I saw weren't taking me seriously. In the months that followed me having my first dc, I lost so much weight I went to below 7 stone. I also had an increased heart rate, increased metabolism, I was sweaty and breathless and something felt very wrong. I went to my health visitor and then gp 4 times. Each time I was told I had pnd and needed to look after myself better. I told them I wasn't depressed, I didn't feel depressed, and I wanted to be checked properly. I insisted on having blood tests, they checked my iron levels. By the time they finally checked my thyroid levels my dd was 1 year old. I was under 7 stone and close to collapse. My thyroid levels came back dangerously out of whack - the specialist I saw said there was risk of me having a thyroid "storm" (attack).
It had taken me a year to get health care providers to take me seriously.

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