Black British Mothers Pregnancy

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Racial disparities exist in relation to maternal mortality rates (MMR) amongst BAME (black and minority ethnic women). Chakhtoura et al. (2019) stated that a consistent finding is black women in the US being more likely to die during pregnancy, despite income and education levels being controlled. Research points toward poor quality of antenatal care (on part of medical professionals) as largely underpinning MMR disparities. A report by Hamilton (2017) regarded lacklustre medical care as a major contributor to the statistic of black women being three times more likely to die from pregnancy complications compared with their white contemporaries. Furthermore, A case study conducted by Saftlas, Koonin, and Atrash (2000) found that high MMR rates disproportionality affect black women in cases where the pregnancy complications between black and white women are similar.

Racial bias can be seen to underpin the poor quality of healthcare delivered to Black women. Moniz et al (2007) stated that stereotyping bias amongst healthcare staff is central to the care provided to pregnant black women. Hoffman (2016) study is one within a very small body of research exploring the direct link between racial biases and pregnancy mortality, illustrating that a proportion of white medical students believed African Americans have particularly high pain thresholds due to the variation of skin thickness and nerve ending. Biological myths can therefore override appropriate methods of medical treatment and the abilities of black patients can be overestimated.

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The body of research addressing ethnic disparity within pregnancy healthcare, is saturated with the use of American women being studied quantitatively. Quantitative research within MMR research is problematic because it often treats its sample as a homogenous group of BAME women….(). Back women will have different experiences of racism compared with South Asian women which in turn, will respectively shape the way in which healthcare staff treat patients. Furthermore whilst quantitative data illustrates that high mortality rates exists due to health complications, a vast amount has not enabled for women to articulate exactly what aspects of care they received resulted in their negative perceptions – for example perceived racial bias on part of medical staff. Studies of American women, reduce the reliability and generalisability of findings to black British women due to differing climates of racial tension colonial legacy and perhaps due to the existence of the National Health Service amidst which large populations of medical staff work.

It is hoped that this study provides a basis for British medical staff to understand how factors such as racial biases, contribute to the delivery of poor healthcare – as illustrated first hand by a group of British black mothers. This research should therefore provide a stepping stone to inform the design and implementation of changes within maternity care  


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