Serena Williams Invests in Postpartum Start-Up That Could Save Mothers' Lives | 22 Words

When tennis champion Serena Williams gave birth to her first child, Olympia, she almost died.

Just 24 hours after giving birth, Williams who has a history of pulmonary embolisms was suffering from shortness of breath and felt that something was very wrong. In what should have been moments of bliss with her newborn daughter and recovering after an emergency c-section, was turned into moments where Williams was fighting for her life.

The beginning of her postpartum health struggle was actually not met with critical care.

Her pain was disregarded as possible confusion to due the medications Williams was given after the delivery of her daughter. This is similar to what many women have expressed over the years, that healthcare providers downplay women's health concerns. When Williams requested a CT Scan, she received an ultrasound instead. And when she finally received the CT scan, it showed the many blood clots in her lungs and she was rushed into surgery. Williams has expressed that she is grateful for the care she received but the mental load of what happened to her still rings. And although Williams can tell the story of what happened to her after childbirth, there are many women who cannot.

This is why Williams has invested in Mahmee, a start-up that will help other women avoid the same ordeal.

According to their website, Mahmee is “a management platform that makes it easy for payers, providers, and patients to coordinate comprehensive prenatal and postpartum healthcare from anywhere." Their goal and what Williams is striving for is better comprehensive care for women before and after pregnancy. It’s true that the U.S. needs better care for women, especially during those critical months after a baby is born where women need to recover both physically and mentally.

It has become a very important conversation, moms whether new or seasoned, need to be well taken care of, especially after child birth.

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We cannot just forget about mother’s until the six-week or eight-week postpartum check up.

Research has shown that we have a problem when it comes to the postpartum period of a woman’s care.

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The number of deaths or injury after child birth are shocking.

American women are more likely than women in any other developed country to die during childbirth or from pregnancy-related complications.

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According to the CDC, nearly 700 women die each year as a result of pregnancy or labor and delivery complications.

The CDC also reports that pregnancy related deaths has steadily increased from 7.2 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1987 to 17.2 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2015.

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Sadly, the pregnancy mortality seems to be getting worse.

Even more upsetting, black women are three times more likely to die after childbirth or pregnancy related health concerns in comparison to other racial groups.

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Thankfully, there is work being done to help shrink the number of deaths from pregnancy or childbirth.

Tennis star, Serena Williams knows firsthand the importance of excellent health care after childbirth.

Williams herself is very open about her experience giving birth to her daughter, Olympia. Williams nearly died in the days following the birth of her child.

Williams said just 24 hours after giving birth to her daughter via an emergency c-section, she experienced blood clots in the arteries of her lungs and suffered shortness of breath.

Williams has a history of pulmonary embolisms so when she felt that something was wrong, she immediately reacted.

Little did Williams know that this would spark a domino-effect of health complications.

This is something that no mother giving birth to a child expects.

When Williams expressed her concerns to her medical staff, they felt she may have been confused due to the pain medication she was receiving.

According to Williams, she had to basically shout at the doctors to listen to her and get her a CT scan.

She eventually got the CT scan which showed the many blood clots that developed in her lungs.

Unfortunately, Williams' health concerns did not end there.

Her c-section scar opened to due excessive coughing from the complications of the pulmonary embolism.

When doctors went in to resolve the issue, they discovered a large hematoma and Williams needed another procedure to resolve the issue.

Williams went in for the next procedure to stop her blood from clotting in her lungs.

This was a life-saving procedure.

Thankfully, Williams pulled through. But she spent the first six weeks after giving birth bedridden.

If it were not for her relentless requests for care, this could have ended very differently.

Williams is now working towards helping other women receive the best care they need before and after child birth.

Based on studies about women’s health parental and postpartum, this is an area that’s highly needed.

Williams has invested in a start-up company called Mahmee, that’s working on filling the gap in critical care for mother’s.

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According to their website, Mahmee is a "care management platform that makes it easy for payers, providers, and patients to coordinate comprehensive prenatal and postpartum healthcare from anywhere".

The weeks and months after child birth can be extremely challenging for moms.

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Physical recovery can take weeks with women that give birth via c-section needing 8 weeks or more.

The demands of motherhood can also be daunting on a moms mental health.

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Statistics show one in five women suffer from postpartum depression or anxiety. Williams herself has also opened up about the postpartum depression she experienced.

Co-founder of Mahmee, Melissa Hanna, has expressed her concerns and why her company is so important for women’s health.

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We’re so focused on delivering a healthy baby that mom gets side-lined," Hanna told Tech Crunch.

The mission is to ensure both mom and baby are connected in their care as much as in their love for one another before and after birth.

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Hanna tells Tech Crunch, “this industry is lacking the IT infrastructure needed to connect these professionals from different organizations to each other, and to follow and monitor patients across practices and health systems."

Mahmee is a network to get new moms the support they need from their community, other moms, and medical providers.

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The information providers need for their patient is all in one place connecting a team for the mom.

The Mahmee network can also “flag" a provider if something is wrong with a patient.

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A mother in an emergency situation, especially one like Williams experienced, must be taken care of immediately.

Mahmee co-founder gave an example of a mother who was experiencing symptoms of septic shock and through the Mahmee network, they were able to contact the mom to her OB-GYN immediately.

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Thankfully this network was readily available or the mom may not have known.

Through her business, Serena Ventures, Williams has invested in Mahmee and hopes to close that gap that’s critical in the care of a mother’s prenatal and postpartum life, especially for black women.

"I am incredibly excited to invest and partner with Mahmee, a company that personifies my firm’s investment philosophy," Williams said in a statement.

The new funding will be used to grow Mahmee's team of leading engineers, clinicians and sales staff.

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All to build a sophisticated network online and through apps to help save the lives of mothers.

Mahmee is working on building a large network that surpasses the norm of care that Mother’s receive.

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"In the maternity healthcare process, on the surface there are generally three or four people involved: the mother, the baby, and each of their physicians. What we don't see are the many other people helping them: nurses, lactation consultants, midwives, nutritionists, therapists, doulas, home health aids, social workers, and more," said Hanna

As a mother of three who has dealt first hand with postpartum health issues, the approach Mahmee is taking is very helpful and necessary.

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I especially love that their network includes lactation consultants and nutritionists.

Mahmee is still in the early stages of their startup but they have over 1,000 providers and organizations in their network, including Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, AltaMed, Children's Hospital Los Angeles, UCLA, and more.

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And now with the funding they have received, their network is growing immensely.

Owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban, is also an investor in Mahmee.

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Mahmee has some all-star investors that are very enthusiastic about their tech approach to prenatal and postpartum health care.

Williams has expressed that her goal is to also ensure there is no more fragmented care between mom and baby.

Williams’ goal is for no woman to go through what she has gone through.

Having a network like Mahmee could just save your life.

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And the benefits of checking in with a group of moms could also be the key to saving your sanity.