As part of UK Black History Month I’ve been sharing a range of posts on my Instagram designed to educate, inspire action and change the narrative of black people and the black community. Today my focus is on the experience of black mothers during pregnancy and childbirth.
I am always explaining that racism is systemic, woven into the fabric of society and maternity is a great way to highlight this. Racism is literally happening from birth. Pregnancy is supposed to be a very exciting time, full of looking forward with anticipation for baby’s (or in my case babies’ arrival). But even in that, black woman are at a disadvantage.
In the UK, Black women are five times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than white women, despite making up only 4% of those giving birth according to a 2019 report published by MBRRACE-UK. The report found that black and minority ethnic groups are at greater risk of their baby dying in the womb or soon after birth, and at greater risk of severe long-term health problems.
Evidence that shows that the way medical workers deliver care differs based on the person sitting in front of them. Healthcare professionals, whether they realise it or not, tend to dedicate more time when talking and engaging with a white woman about her treatment plans than they would for a woman from a BAME background. Even when Black women feel empowered to advocate for themselves, they’re often dismissed as being angry or troublesome — a fine line to tiptoe along when trying to articulate a point without being labelled as aggressive.
And just in case you were thinking that this might be based more on socio-economic status than race, research from the US shows that even when Black and Asian women do not have pre-existing medical conditions, have English as their first language and come from middle-class backgrounds, they still have worse outcomes compared with white women from a similar background.
So if you’re thinking about what you can do for Black History Month to dismantle systemic racism and bring about true change please consider donating to the FivexMore organisation here, and signing the petition for improving conditions for Black mothers in the UK. FivexMore is an organisation founded by a mum who had issues with her own childbirth. They are working tirelessly to increase awareness of the disparities in maternal mortality rates for black women in the U.K. and with your support can continue their ambitious plan to play a leading role in eradicating the statistics for good.
And if you’re here specifically looking for my sources and resources, and wanting to learn more, please visit: