Black Women Are Speaking Out After Serena Williams Revealed She Faced Life Threatening Birth Complications

Beyonce revealed in an essay for Vogue that she suffered from toxemia while she was pregnant last year

  • Better known as pre-eclampsia, the condition is characterized by dangerously high blood pressure

  • If the condition is left untreated, the mother can experience seizures or strokes and the baby can experience preterm birth

  • The article comes on the heels of Serena Williams' equally celebrated article, which explained that her emergency C-section and post-partum pulmonary embolism 

  • By Mary Kekatos For Dailymail.com

    Published: 23:35 BST, 6 August 2018 | Updated: 22:46 BST, 7 August 2018

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    Beyonce has revealed that she suffered from a potentially fatal medical condition while she was pregnant with her twins, Rumi and Sir. 

    She also opens up about the painful logistics of Caesareans, describing how organs are moved around and sometimes removed entirely during the procedure. 

    'I was 218 pounds the day I gave birth to Rumi and Sir. I was swollen from toxemia and had been on bed rest for over a month,' she wrote in a personal essay written for Vogue's September issue, in which she appears on the cover.

    'My health and my babies' health were in danger, so I had an emergency C-section.'

    Her words triggered both a spike in Google searches for 'toxemia', and an outpouring of gratitude, primarily from American obstetricians who, in the US, are working in the country with the highest rate of maternal mortality in the developed world. 

    The article comes on the heels of Serena Williams's equally celebrated article, which explained that her emergency C-section and post-partum pulmonary embolism is particularly common among African American women - and while she had plenty of resources to save her, millions of American women, and others around the world, do not have the luxury of guaranteed survival.

    Beyonce has revealed that she was suffering from a potentially fatal medical condition while she was pregnant with her twins, Rumi and Sir, in Vogue's September issue 

    Beyonce has revealed that she was suffering from a potentially fatal medical condition while she was pregnant with her twins, Rumi and Sir, in Vogue's September issue 

    She had what is known as pre-eclampsia, a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage in other organs, often the kidneys. Pictured: Beyonce and her twins 

    She had what is known as pre-eclampsia, a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage in other organs, often the kidneys. Pictured: Beyonce and her twins 

    Within hours of the release of Beyonce's article, Google searches for the term spiked

    Within hours of the release of Beyonce's article, Google searches for the term spiked

    Speaking to Daily Mail Online, Dr Michael Cackovic, OB/GYN at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, said it was particularly pertinent that Beyonce's essay raised the issue of toxemia, which can be perilous if not properly treated.

    Toxemia is an old term for pre-eclampsia, a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage in other organs, often the kidneys - and within hours of the release of Beyonce's article, Google searches for the term spiked.

    The condition used to be called toxemia because medical professional previously believed it was caused by a toxin in the blood, which we now know is not the case. 

    While it still is not clear what exactly causes pre-eclampsia, we are learning more about it - including the fact that it is more commonly seen in certain races than others in America. 

    According to a 2017 survey run by the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, black women were found to have rates of pre-eclampsia to be 60 percent higher in black women than white women.

    Black women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes, according to the CDC. 

    Although the cause for this difference is unclear, some doctors speculate it could be because chronic illnesses such as obesity and hypertension, both of which are pregnancy risk factors, are higher in black women.

    Other say it could be because of socioeconomic disparities between black and white women including housing, health care access, insurance, and health education. 

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    Dr Cackovic said it can appear anywhere after the 20-week mark in pregnancy and  that it's very dangerous whether you have no symptoms or typical symptoms.

    'Women will say they're experiencing the worst headache of their life, have changes in vision, or abdominal pain,' he told Daily Mail Online.

    Preeclampsia symptoms

    If you or someone you know is pregnant, or has just had a baby, be sure to watch for these signs of preeclampsia:

    • severe headache
    • changes in vision 
    • water retention
    • swelling in the legs 
    • abnormal amount of protein in urine
    • elevated blood pressure

    'It affects between five and seven percent of pregnant women and it's a disease of the placenta so the more placenta you have, in Beyonce's case twins, the more of a chance you have of getting pre-eclampsia.'

    When a woman gets pregnant, new blood vessels form to send blood to the placenta, according to the Mayo Clinic.

    However, many women with pre-eclampsia typically have improperly developed or poor functioning blood vessels.

    This means the amount of blood that flows though the vessels is limited.   

    Dr Cackovic explained that the only cure is delivery, which for many women indicates inducing labor or performing C-section, as occurred in Beyonce's case.

    He said that although pre-eclampsia is not an indication of an emergency C-section being needed, it may be necessary if the symptoms are severe enough.  

    The singer said she was on bed rest for more than a month and was forced to undergo an emergency C-section

    The singer said she was on bed rest for more than a month and was forced to undergo an emergency C-section

    If the condition is left untreated, the mother can experience seizures or strokes and the baby can experience preterm birth

    If the condition is left untreated, the mother can experience seizures or strokes and the baby can experience preterm birth

    'If we see they're suffering from pre-eclampsia, we can admit them to the hospital around 34 weeks and watch them closely,' he said.

    'If it's a woman with severe pre-eclampsia we deliver at 34 weeks, with mild pre-eclampsia we deliver at 37 weeks.' 

    If the condition is left untreated, the mother can experience seizures or strokes or the baby can experience preterm birth.

    Dr Cacokvic says that if pregnant women experience a multitude of signs such as swelling, pain in the abdomen, and severe headaches, they should get medical help immediately.

    'Once women have those signs, it means the pre-eclampsia is likely severe and their  babies need to be delivered,' he said.    

    Beyonce is not the first African-American celebrity to speak out about complications she endured during her pregnancy.

    In a January interview with Vogue, Serena Williams revealed that she nearly died giving birth to her daughter Olympia.

    The tennis star gave birth on September 1 via emergency C-section when Olympia's heart rate became very low during the contractions.

    Then, blood clots developed in Williams's lungs - known as pulmonary embolism - and, after coughing so much due to the clots, her C-section incision burst.

    A hematoma, a collection of clotted blood vessels, was discovered in her abdomen and doctors inserted a filter in her vein to prevent further clots.

    Williams, who is married to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, was in the hospital for a week and bedridden for an additional six weeks until November.

    Serena Williams also gave an interview to Vogue in which she revealed she had an emergency C-section and a post-partum pulmonary embolism. Pictured: Williams, left, with husband Alexis Ohanian and daughter Olympia

    Serena Williams also gave an interview to Vogue in which she revealed she had an emergency C-section and a post-partum pulmonary embolism. Pictured: Williams, left, with husband Alexis Ohanian and daughter Olympia

    Doctors have hailed Beyonce and Williams for sharing risks on the mortal risk of black mothers in the US

    Doctors have hailed Beyonce and Williams for sharing risks on the mortal risk of black mothers in the US

    In February, the 23-time Grand Slam winner, wrote an op-ed for CNN in which she revealed that while she was lucky to have 'an incredible medical team', many women are not as lucky.

    'Around the world, thousands of women struggle to give birth in the poorest countries,' she wrote. 

    'When they have complications like mine, there are often no drugs, health facilities or doctors to save them...Before they even bring a new life into this world, the cards are already stacked against them.'

    Doctors are now praising both Beyonce and Williams  for bringing light to such long-standing health issues.

    'Pregnancy can be very dangerous; especially for Black women,' tweeted Dr Daniel Grossman, a professor at UCSF Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health.

    'Thank you to Serena, and now Beyoncé, for opening up about pregnancy complications and the toll it took on them. Everyone deserves access to healthcare, and to make their own pregnancy decisions.'

    Dr Lynn Simpson, a professor of obstetrics & gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center shared a CNN article and wrote: 'Beyoncé's and Serena's pregnancies shed light on a real risk.' 

    Dr Rob Striker, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Wisconsin- Madison, tweeted: 'While there are simple things (blood pressure) that providers needs get better at, preeclampsia is complicated and not understood. This deserves >> attention and funding than it is getting.'

    The CDC reports that among US black women, there were 43.5 deaths per 100,000 live births between 2011 and 2013.

    This is a stark contrast from the 12.7 deaths per 100,000 live births for white women and 14.4 deaths for all other races during the same three-year period.

    And it's gotten the support of lawmakers. Two bills have entered congress to set up committees that review maternal mortality rates in all 50 states. 

    Additionally, in New York City, officials announced a $12.8million initiative to review the number of maternal deaths and complications among women of color.

    An investigative series from NPR and ProPublica found that black women were 12 times more likely to die from causes related to child birth than white women in the Big Apple.  

    'We are losing far too many mothers - especially women of color - to pregnancy-related complications,' New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. 'That is unacceptable.'

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    Black Women Are Speaking Out After Serena Williams Revealed She Faced Life Threatening Birth Complications

    Source:Daily Mail

    Black Women Are Speaking Out After Serena Williams Revealed She Faced Life Threatening Birth Complications

    Black Women Are Speaking Out After Serena Williams Revealed She Faced Life Threatening Birth Complications

    Source:Time

    Black Women Are Speaking Out After Serena Williams Revealed She Faced Life Threatening Birth Complications

    Black Women Are Speaking Out After Serena Williams Revealed She Faced Life Threatening Birth Complications

    Source:The Guardian

    Black Women Are Speaking Out After Serena Williams Revealed She Faced Life Threatening Birth Complications

    Black Women Are Speaking Out After Serena Williams Revealed She Faced Life Threatening Birth Complications

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    Black Women Are Speaking Out After Serena Williams Revealed She Faced Life Threatening Birth Complications

    Black Women Are Speaking Out After Serena Williams Revealed She Faced Life Threatening Birth Complications

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    Black Women Are Speaking Out After Serena Williams Revealed She Faced Life Threatening Birth Complications

    Black Women Are Speaking Out After Serena Williams Revealed She Faced Life Threatening Birth Complications

    Source:Gulf News

    Black Women Are Speaking Out After Serena Williams Revealed She Faced Life Threatening Birth Complications