Today Five X More has published its Black Maternity Experience report, a vital step in tackling the stark inequalities in pregnancy outcomes faced by Black women.
The report captures the maternity experiences of over 1,300 Black women from across the UK and echoes other ongoing work that has identified barriers faced in accessing maternity services.
It highlights how Black women’s experience of maternity care is shaped by the attitudes, knowledge and assumptions of healthcare professionals. While both positive and negative experiences were reported, negative experiences far outweighed those in which women were happy with the care that they had received.
Key findings include:
- 36% of respondents reported feeling dissatisfied with how their concerns during labour were addressed by professionals.
- 61% of women experiencing pregnancy loss reported not receiving any additional support in helping them deal with this.
Working together to tackle perinatal inequalities
To make progress on tackling inequalities the experiences highlighted in this report must lead to improvements in care, so that everyone can benefit from the best possible outcomes.
Five X More are members of the Maternity Consortium, which unites organisations behind a common agenda to reduce health inequalities.
The Maternity Consortium, led by Sands and Tommy’s, is currently looking into how to promote equitable access to perinatal mental health services, and how to promote equity in neonatal care.
“Everyone should experience safe and personalised care throughout pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period. As this report makes clear, this is too often not the reality faced by many Black women. To make progress on tackling inequalities, the experiences highlighted in this report must now lead to improvements in care - so that everyone can benefit from the best possible outcomes.
"We need the publication of national data to monitor progress against government commitments to reduce these inequalities, and the forthcoming update to the NHS Long Term Plan must set out clear ambitions for tackling inequality in perinatal outcomes due to ethnicity.”
- Robert Wilson, Head of the Sands & Tommy's Joint Policy Unit
Evidence from MBRRACE-UK shows that Black women are four times more likely to die in pregnancy and childbirth. Stillbirth rates for babies of Black ethnicity are over twice those for babies of White ethnicity, and Black women are at 40% increased risk of experiencing a miscarriage.
The stories shared by women in the Five X More report highlight a consistent theme of their concerns not being listened to or acted upon.
Sands' Chief Executive Clea Harmer attended the launch event at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in London.
“Today’s report from Five X More reinforces the urgent need to tackle the stark inequalities in pregnancy outcomes faced by Black women.
“In February the Government launched the Maternity Disparities Taskforce with the ambition of bringing together a wide range of experts to tackle inequalities in maternity care experienced by women from ethnic minority groups.
"The challenge for the taskforce is significant and will require proper funding and sustained effort if it is to make a real difference to the lives of Black women and babies and those from all ethnic monitory backgrounds.
“The government has committed to halve the rate of stillbirths, neonatal deaths, maternal deaths and brain injuries by 2025. However, while progress has been made, disparities continue to persist – the reasons for these remain unclear and it is crucial that they are addressed.”
- Clea Harmer, Chief Executive, Sands
Sands, alongside Tommy’s and partners in the Pregnancy and Baby Charities Network, has called for the publication of national data to monitor progress against commitments on reducing inequalities due to ethnicity and deprivation.