Black women five times more likely to die during childbirth than white women

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British figures have revealed that black women are now five times more likely than white women to experience death as a result of pregnancy complications.

These shocking figures were released late last year but received little attention. Since then, the numbers have risen and it has also been revealed that Asian women are twice more likely than their white counterparts.

Jenni Murray, a BBC Radio 4 presenter, interviewed various women to discuss the issue at hand.

Elsie Gayle, a midwife and nurse with 30 years’ experience within the NHS, stated her concern since observing the practices of midwives since 2001. Elsie has observed the disparity and experienced it first hand when expecting her child.

On 1st November 2018 there was a notable rise from three times more likely to die to five times more likely to die for women of African descent, whilst Asian women have remained at two times more likely to die during childbirth.

These issues have causes which are currently being looked into. One cause is that certain ethnic groups are more prone to various medical conditions and complications than white individuals. For example, black women are more likely to have higher blood pressure than white women, which in turn may increase the likelihood of experiencing complications during childbirth.

Socio-economic factors also contribute to these figures. Many people argue that black women do not have their voices heard in the same way white women do, whilst some black women have reportedly been given little or no pain relief as a result of an assumption that they can withstand more pain than women of other races.

Policy makers have paid very little attention to this issue, however in 2011 the Black Women’s Health and Wellbeing Research Network was founded in order to help black women get the help they require.

Elsie has stated that through the work of group midwifery conversations they have been able to help women find the information and resources that they need, when they need to. For example, if a black women is having problems getting a scan, the service may refer them to a senior midwife in the system rather than complaining to PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service).

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