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Serena Williams Reveals More Terrifying Details of Her Labor: ‘It Was a Whole New Kind of Fear’

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The news that Serena Williams experienced scary complications after giving birth was shocking—not to mention influential in highlighting the racial and economic disparities in health care in the U.S.

 

Now, in the first few episodes of the new HBO docuseries Being Serena, which premieres Wednesday night, we find out that there was even more to Williams’ pregnancy story. Being Serena is a five-part series following Williams from the moment she found out she was pregnant through her return to tennis (SELF received screeners of the first two episodes before they aired). It offers a look into her relationship with now-husband Alexis Ohanian, her experience becoming a mother and getting married, and the pressure she puts on herself to come back and consistently be one of the greatest athletes of all time.

 

 

 

But what struck us the most in the first two episodes was how much we get to see of Williams’ labor and delivery—and the subsequent complications. Here are a few details you may not have known about Williams’ journey to motherhood (Beware: Spoilers ahead.)

 

 

Even though Williams put on a brave (and remarkably relaxed) face, she felt anxious about the health of her baby throughout her pregnancy.

 

In the first episode, you see a pregnant Williams describe her experience as not too challenging overall. She says she has plenty of energy (and continues to work out well into her pregnancy) and hasn’t had any horrible morning sickness, although she does mention that even water gives her heartburn later on.

 

 

Still, she was fairly nervous throughout the experience. “I have a lot of fear and hesitation mostly around the health of the baby,” she says before giving birth. “That’s my main concern.”

 

 

Williams knew she wanted to avoid a C-section if possible, mainly due to her history of blood clots.
In a filmed conversation, Williams goes through her birth options with Caroline Bahadourian, her doula. Bahadourian explains that recovery from a C-section can be challenging for anyone, but considering Williams’ previous health issues (“embolisms, hematomas, blood clots…”), there may be a risk for certain complications after a surgery like a C-section.

 

 

 

A little background info: Blood clots form when blood thickens into clumps, the Mayo Clinic explains, which happens normally when you’re healing from a wound. But it can also happen after surgery because you’re not able to move around a whole lot and get your blood flowing. If those clots break off, they can move around your body to potentially harmful locations, including the brain or lungs, and block blood flow to those areas (forming an embolism or hematoma). If you have a history of blood clots, you may be at risk for getting them again, especially after undergoing major surgery.

 

 

“The C-section was low on our wishlist because of her history of blood clots,” Ohanian explains in the episode. “Any surgery that Serena has is potentially life-threatening.” So the couple says they would prefer to give birth vaginally.

 

 

Ohanian jumped into action the moment they knew something wasn’t quite right.
About halfway through the first episode, Ohanian drives Williams to the hospital to be induced. But after the first night in the hospital having contractions without her water breaking, it’s clear that her delivery may be a bit more challenging than they were hoping.

 

 

 

The next day, Ohanian calls in a nurse to check on their “little machine” that’s beeping, because they’re not sure what’s going on. “We’re watching the baby’s vitals start to drop when the contractions were happening,” Ohanian explains later. “[The] baby was in distress.”

 

 

 

According to Williams’ agent, Jill Smoller, “Serena said her chest was hurting, she had a lot pain.” The doctors determined that “between the stress and the baby, they were not taking a risk [with a vaginal birth].” Although the couple had previously decided that a C-section wasn’t their first choice, “for the safety of mom and the safety of the baby, we have to proceed with a C-section,” Ohanian says.

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Queen ‘disappointed’ with Meghan Markle, Harry over christening move

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Queen Elizabeth is reportedly ‘disappointed’ over Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s move to christen Lilibet within the US and a former butler believes she’ll be heartbroken to miss such a special event.

Some former staffers even fear she’ll be utterly heartbroken if she is not able to participate in the grand event.

The Firm’s former royal butler Grant Harrold made this claim during his interview with Express.

There he speculated upon the possible plan of action Prince Harry and Meghan Markle may take regarding the christening, for the Queen, and claimed, “I am sure if this does not take place in the UK, the Queen will be disappointed to not attend the christening of her great-granddaughter.”

He also went on to add, “However, as with many families who have family overseas, sometimes it is not possible.”

“Maybe their christening will be recorded so the family in the UK can watch as well? Family is very important to the Queen and I am sure before too long she will meet her great-granddaughter.”

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31 photos that prove Prince William and Kate Middleton are trying to change their public image

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As the future king and queen consort of England, the Cambridges will always have a different set of rules and expectations than Harry and Markle ever did as senior royals. But Eric Schiffer, an expert on celebrity brand management, told Insider that when it came to the couple’s public-relations strategy, Middleton and William took “little risk” before Markle and Harry’s interview with Oprah Winfrey in March.

“They were manicured to the nth degree,” he said, “and played their public persona with a Buckingham Palace excellence, out of the playbook that’s been mastered for centuries.”

Before the pandemic, William and Middleton almost never posted videos on their official Instagram page. If they did, it was usually a slideshow of photos or a clip played over one of the prince’s formal speeches.

The Cambridges also rarely showed affection toward each other in public, believed to be in line with royal etiquette.

But Markle and Harry’s explosive interview with Oprah hurt the royal family’s reputation.

Harry Meghan interview 2
Harry and Markle during their interview with Oprah. CBS
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex dropped several bombshells during the two-hour interview. Markle said Middleton had made her cry over a flower-girl dress (not the other way around, as some publications had reported), while Harry said he and William were “on different paths.”

Markle and Harry also said that they received no support from the royal family when Markle began experiencing suicidal thoughts and that some royals had “concerns” about their son’s skin color.

Schiffer told Insider that the interview released a “giant smoke bomb” that affected the royal family’s reputation while boosting Markle and Harry’s global image, helping them connect “with people’s humanity and their own struggles.”

“It created this contrast, and Harry and Meghan’s PR strategy, in essence, is to be the unanointed modern-day royals of the populace,” he said. “This is a populist strategy.”

Days after the Oprah interview, William and Middleton shared personal family photos on their official Instagram page.

Kate Middleton Prince William Mother's Day Cake
A cake that Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis made for Mother’s Day in the UK. DukeandDuchessofCambridge/Instagram
On March 14, Mother’s Day in the UK, the couple posted pictures of cards and a cake they said their children — Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis — had made to remember Princess Diana.

“For those experiencing bereavement, today may be particularly challenging,” one of the captions said. “Each year on Mother’s Day, George, Charlotte and Louis make cards remembering their Granny, Diana, for William.”

That week, Middleton visited children at a school in London that had reopened after the UK eased lockdown restrictions.

Kate Middleton
Middleton interacts with a child during a visit to School21 on March 11. JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images
Clare McHugh, a royal historian, told Insider that Middleton and William’s swift new PR strategy was one that the royal family has used since Queen Victoria and Prince Albert took the throne in the 1840s.

“That was a revolutionary moment in Europe when all sorts of monarchies were being overturned,” McHugh said. “They had to find a way to make the monarchy seem more appealing so that it would stick around.

“So they fought back by showing, oh, no, the monarchy is just like you,” she added. “They showcased their children much more than any monarch had done before.”

Weeks before their 10th anniversary, the Cambridges returned to Westminster Abbey, which had been turned into a coronavirus vaccination center.

Middleton appeared to pay tribute to the church’s history by sporting a white knee-length coat. The couple also walked down the same aisle that they walked down on their wedding day.

On April 27, Middleton and William played with children and animals at a farm in Durham, England.

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‘Been warned’ Meghan and Harry keeping away from UK after PR disaster, says Lady C

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MEGHAN MARKLE and Prince Harry have been “warned off” returning to England after “a lot of bad publicity” following their interview with Oprah Winfrey back in March, claims Lady Colin Campbell.

Meghan Markle, 40, has not been back to the UK since moving permanently to the United States last year with her husband Prince Harry, 37, and their young son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, two. Since their transatlantic relocation, the couple have given a number of interviews to the media, including a tell-all sit down with Oprah Winfrey at the beginning of the year, which left critics divided over their comments on the Royal Family.

The Sussexes had claimed they felt racial prejudice from an unnamed member of the Royal Family after the birth of their son Archie.

They alleged the senior royal questioned “how dark” Archie would be in tandem with talks over whether the baby should receive a prince title.

Since then Prince Harry has flown back to the UK just twice, once to attend the funeral of his grandfather Prince Philip and also to attend the unveiling of a statue in his late mother, Princess Diana’s honour.

On both occasions, the duke has been unaccompanied by his wife, Archie, or newborn daughter Lilibet.

Many have questioned if the Sussexes will ever visit the UK as a family ever again, and now Lady Colin Campbell has claimed the “bad publicity” from some sections of media is preventing their return.

In her latest YouTube video, Lady Colin said: “They know they are going to be subjected to a lot of bad publicity, and they have been warned.

“I am reliably informed that the bad publicity they are getting is affecting their brand. So really they have been warned off coming to England.”

Her comments come as Prince Harry confirmed he would not be attending an event to celebrate his mother’s statue unveiling.

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