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Why Serena Williams refused to use the term ‘postpartum depression’.

In August this year, Serena Williams started a conversation we don’t have often enough in public.

In an interview with Mamamia, Williams shared why she posted an emotional and heartfelt Instagram post about her “postpartum emotions” after her pregnancy. In the post, she opened up about not feeling like a good mum, not believing she was doing enough for her baby and her struggle to find balance in her life.

It’s something many mothers struggle with, unfortunately often in silence.

In her post, the 37-year-old told other women she knew they were going through the same thing – and that it was totally normal.

 

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Last week was not easy for me. Not only was I accepting some tough personal stuff, but I just was in a funk. Mostly, I felt like I was not a good mom. I read several articles that said postpartum emotions can last up to 3 years if not dealt with. I like communication best. Talking things through with my mom, my sisters, my friends let me know that my feelings are totally normal. It’s totally normal to feel like I’m not doing enough for my baby. We have all been there. I work a lot, I train, and I’m trying to be the best athlete I can be. However, that means although I have been with her every day of her life, I’m not around as much as I would like to be. Most of you moms deal with the same thing. Whether stay-at-home or working, finding that balance with kids is a true art. You are the true heroes. I’m here to say: if you are having a rough day or week–it’s ok–I am, too!!! There’s always tomm!

A post shared by Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) on

Talking to Mia Freedman on the No Filter podcast, Williams spoke of how important she believed these types of conversations to be, and why she chose the words “postpartum feelings”.

“I felt like it was really important to talk about because a lot of people feel like the word depression is bad and just because you’re going through things, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s depression,” she explained to Freedman.

“I thought it was important to say something that a lot of people could relate to and understand. Just like the Berlei campaign ‘I Touch Myself’, it’s really something that I know so many women can relate and so many women can understand, and hey, it might not be the most comfortable thing to talk about.”

Listen to Mia’s full conversation with Serena Williams below, or subscribe to the No Filter podcast here.

She is referring to the Berlei campaign for Breast Cancer Awareness month in October. Williams sings and dances naked  – yes, really – to the Divinyls hit I Touch Myself as part of the I Touch Myself Project to encourage early detection of breast cancer.

She likened her discussions of postpartum feelings to the one she is now promoting about breast cancer.

“It’s those uncomfortable situations that we really need to embrace better and help each other more because it can literally save lives.”

Watch the exclusive clip of Serena Williams singing ‘I Touch Myself’…

Throughout Williams’ interview with Freedman, the sounds of one-year-old Olympia babbling can be heard clearly. It’s apparent that she’s close by, playing with mum, while she works.

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Williams had a straightforward pregnancy – but her delivery and its aftermath were anything but.

She gave birth to Olympia in September 2017 by emergency c-section.

Having suffered with blood clots her whole life, Williams knew the dangers when she began feeling short of breath the day after giving birth. She hadn’t been taking her usual anti-coagulant medication following the surgery, and she thought she might be suffering a pulmonary embolism (blood clots in the lungs).

After an ultrasound showed nothing, a CT scan did show multiple blood clots in her lungs and Williams was given the blood-thinning medication she knew she needed.

She’s regularly used the time since she’s become a mum to speak openly about its challenges and her personal struggles with being a working parent.

The tennis champion has used her experiences to encourage other mums to do the same. Most recently, she shared a story of Olympia vomiting on a plane to start a discussion about the realities of being a mum.

Freedman asked Williams about the way she’s made lifting women up her “mission,” even during a particularly low point at the US Open. Her public support of Naomi Osaka, certainly, was no accident.

“For me I feel like we should lift each other up and support each other, and not tear each other down, and that’s something I’ve always tried to do,” Williams said. “I’ve always tried to… fight for equal prize money and fight for equal playing time, and fight for all sorts of equality, and you know I feel like it’s one thing to fight for it and then not do it.”

It’s a value, however, that is entirely authentic to Williams. “It’s just me,” she said. “It’s just super, super, super, super natural.”

As part of the I Touch Myself ProjectBerlei  are donating 100% of profits from the sale of The Chrissy bra to Breast Cancer Network Australia. Buy yours now at berlei.com.au/THECHRISSY 

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