For Black & Brown Skinned Parents

Here at MAMA Academy, we are empowering black and brown women as well as black and brown birthing people to make informed choices and advocate for themselves throughout their pregnancies and after childbirth.

The sad reality is that there are wide ethnic inequalities in perinatal mortality and babies of black ethnicity currently have the highest rates of both stillbirth and neonatal death.

Why are black and brown women more at risk?

The combined disadvantage for black, Pakistani and Bangladeshi ethnicities who are more likely to live in most deprived areas is associated with considerably higher rates. Key causes of death were congenital anomalies and placental causes. Improved strategies for investigation of stillbirth causes are needed to reduce unexplained deaths so that interventions can be targeted to reduce stillbirths.

What can be done?

As we strive to make childbirth safer for all mothers and babies, we are making a special effort to empower black and brown women to manage their health and wellbeing throughout their pregnancy to continue to reduce this disparity.

Empower yourself

Pregnancy can affect your health in the nine months you are pregnant, and beyond so think about your health before and after, as well as during your pregnancy. If you have a pre-existing health condition, try to get specialist advice before you get pregnant. Don’t stop existing medication without expert advice and report your condition to your maternity team as soon as you find out you are pregnant.

If you suffer from Epilepsy, learn how to make an informed decision about medication choices.

Stay connected with your usual care teams, and keep your GP and midwife informed of any changes in your health.

  • Monitor your babies movements
  • Learn how to make informed choices regarding your medical care
  • Perform daily pelvic floor exercises & massage your perineal regularly
  • Drink plenty of water to keep hydrated
  • Eat healthily (only eat for you, not for two) & stay active with regular exercise
  • Stop smoking and drinking alcohol and caffeine

Vaccinations

Make sure you take up vaccinations for flu and COVID-19, as well as any other recommended vaccinations, during pregnancy.

Mental health

Mental health is unique and important in pregnancy; the mind can change as well as the body. If you see or experience something that doesn’t feel right, seek help. Speak up, and speak up repeatedly. These are signs to be aware of, in yourself, a loved one or friend.

Red flags to look out for, and seek advice:

  • Do you have new feelings or thoughts that you have never had before, which make you disturbed or anxious?
  • Are you experiencing thoughts of suicide or harming yourself in violent ways?
  • Are you struggling to sleep?
  • Are you feeling incompetent, as though you can’t cope, or estranged from your baby? Are these feelings persistent?
  • Do you feel you are getting worse?

If you need help now

Support is available. If you need someone to talk to now, contact your maternity unit or find out where to get urgent help for mental health.

Pre-eclampsia

You may need to take aspirin if you are at risk of pre-eclampsia. Ask your midwife, GP or pharmacist for advice. You should expect to have your blood pressure and urine tested at every antenatal visit. Make sure this is happening. If it is not, ask why not.

Factors which put you at moderate risk of pre-eclampsia:

  • First pregnancy
  • Age 40 years or older
  • Pregnancy interval of more than 10 years
  • Body Mass Index (BMI) of 35 or more
  • Family history of pre-eclampsia
  • Multiple pregnancy

Postnatally

Learn how to look for signs of jaundice.

Learn about safe sleeping.

Think Sepsis

Be aware of sepsis symptoms up to 6 weeks after you have given birth

Sepsis symptoms to look out for, and seek advice:

Slurred speech or confusion

Extreme shivering or muscle pain

Passing no urine (in a day)

Severe breathlessness

It feels like you’re going to die

Skin mottled or discoloured

 

Five x More Six recommended Steps

  1. Speak Up

If you feel that something isn’t right, make sure you speak to a medical professional and don’t stay silent

  1. Find an advocate

FOR YOURSELF. This could be a partner, family member of trusted friend to speak on your behalf if need be

  1. Seek a second opinion

You are allowed to ask for a second opinion of another medical professional if you feel you need to

  1. Trust your gut feeling

And speak up. Your gut feelings are almost always right. Don’t ignore them. You know your body better than anyone.

  1. Do your research

ON PREGNANCY AND LABOUR via trusted sources such as NHS.uk, NICE.org.uk and Patient.info

  1. Document Everything

We recommend you to make sure that any treatment or medication you are given or refused is written down in your maternity notes by your doctor or midwife stating their name and reason why.

The Maternity Disparities Taskforce

Early identification of risk factors and timely provision of targeted interventions, particularly for minority ethnic and socially deprived populations, are critical to achieve a reduction in currently observed perinatal disparities. The NHS has implemented several initiatives as part of its Maternity Transformation Programme to achieve the vision of improved maternity care set out in the Better Births national maternity review. While good progress is being made against several commitments detailed in the NHS Long Term Plan, more needs to be done to reduce the disparities in maternity care and improve outcomes for women, babies and their families.

The Maternity Disparities Taskforce was launched in February 2022 to explore inequalities in maternity care and identify how the government can improve outcomes for women from ethnic minority communities and those living in the most deprived areas.

It will do so by improving personalised support and care for mothers, addressing how wider societal issues impact maternal health, improving education around pre-conception health, and empowering women to make evidence-based decisions about their care.

The taskforce brings together experts from across the health service, mothers, government and the voluntary sector, who meet every 2 months.

More info can be found on the government website.

 

Sad Statistics

Stillbirth rates continue to be higher for babies of Black ethnicity (7.52 per 1,000 total births) and babies of Asian ethnicity (5.15 per 1,000 total births) compared with babies of White ethnicity (3.30 per 1,000 total births). There was a very small increase in stillbirth rates since 2020 for babies of White and Asian ethnicity, but a larger rise for babies of Black ethnicity representing a widening of inequalities. For neonatal mortality, the rate for babies of Black ethnicity increased to 2.94 per 1,000 live births, meaning this group now has the highest rate of neonatal mortality. There was a fall in the neonatal mortality rate for babies of Asian ethnicity (2.22 per 1,000 births). The neonatal mortality rate for babies of White ethnicity increased but remained lower than rates for Black and Asian ethnicities at 1.68 per 1,000 live births.

Mortality rates using more refined ethnic categories can be found in the accompanying reference tables. As the mortality rates for some groups are based on small numbers they are not presented here, and may be suppressed in the reference tables.

For more information, read the MBBRACE State of the Nation Report.

 

Other Resources

Maternity Stream of Sanctuary

The Raham Project

Mummy’s Day Out

Refaid; Phone app for refugee/asylum seekers to find local services available

Maternity Action; Charging for NHS Maternity Care

The Positive Birth Company; Free Online Hypnobirthing Course for Black Women

Five x More; Five Steps For Partners

Tommy’s; Helpline for Black and Black Mixed-Heritage women

Tommy’s; Questions & Concerns List

MAMA Academy; Maternity Rights

Five x More; NHS Complaints Procedure

MAMA Academy; Medical Negligence

The Black Maternity Experiences Report