Serena Williams Opens Up About Her Difficult Decision to Stop Breastfeeding
"I cried a little bit."
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Since giving birth to her daughter last year, Serena Williams has returned to the court, beating some of the highest-ranked players out there. The tennis superstar might make it all look easy (especially in her Wakanda-inspired catsuit), but she recently opened up about a difficult decision she had to make as both a new mom and a tennis star: She chose to stop nursing in an effort to get into better shape to compete in Wimbledon. (Related: Serena Williams Shares How She's Embracing Her Changing Body During Pregnancy)
"I feel like everyone says, 'You're so thin when you breastfeed,'" she said in a news conference on Sunday; however, even after training intensely and following a strict vegan diet, Williams says she wasn't seeing the post-baby weight loss results she wanted to be able to perform her best on the court.
"What I've learned through the experience-everybody is different, every person is different, every physical body is different," she said. "For my body, [breastfeeding] didn't work, no matter how much I worked out, no matter how much I did; it didn't work for me."
Williams' decision to stop breastfeeding was quite emotional and one of the most difficult things she's has to do as a mom. "I literally sat Olympia in my arms, I talked to her, we prayed about it," she said. "I told her, 'Look, I'm going to stop. Mommy has to do this.' I cried a little bit, not as much as I thought I would. She was fine." (Related: This Woman's Heartbreaking Confession About Breastfeeding Is #SoReal)
Williams added that once she stopped breastfeeding, she lost 10 pounds in a week. "It was crazy. I just kept dropping. That's when I learned that everything was different," she said. "Sorry to go on about that, but I wanted to say that so women out there know that's not true. Everyone takes things differently. I think it's important for us to share that message."
Even still, Williams' waited as long as possible before giving up on nursing. "For me, it was really important to make it through three months, then it was important to make it to four months," she said. "I was like, 'OK, I can do six months.'"
Breastfeeding is still a controversial topic among new moms, which is why it's so important for women, especially those with the mass reach like Williams, to shed light on the struggles surrounding the practice. While the benefits of breastfeeding for newborns are backed by science, it's simply not for everyone or every family. Some women simply don't make enough milk, their babies aren't able to 'latch on' properly, other health issues or illnesses prevent it entirely, sometimes it's just too painful, for some it's simply a choice not to-or, for others still, it's a barrier to the mom's success. No matter the circumstances, choosing not to breastfeed is a personal decision-and one no mom should be ashamed of.