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Black women are five times more likely to die in childbirth than white women. Why?

Black women are five times more likely to die as a result of complications in pregnancy than white women. The risk has been increasing year on year. Today we ask why.

Black women in Britain are now five times more likely to die as a result of complications in pregnancy than white women. This is according to the latest study from MBRRACE-UK (Mothers and Babies: Reducing Risk through Audits and Confidential Enquiries across the UK). And the risk has been increasing year on year. On today’s Woman’s Hour we concentrate on these disturbing statistics – released late last year, but receiving very little attention.

We discuss why this could be happening with Elsie Gayle, an independent midwife and nurse with 30 years’ experience in the NHS; Daghni Rajasingham, a consultant obstetrician who speaks for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists; Jenny Douglas, the founder and chair of the Black Women’s Health and Well Being Research Network and a senior lecturer at the Open University; and Mars Lord, a doula.

We also hear the birth experiences of some of the many women who contacted us, and are joined in the studio by Remi Sade, a writer and podcaster, and Candice Brathwaite, the founder of Make Motherhood Diverse.

And we look at historical attitudes to black women’s bodies in obstetrics and gynaecology. Deirdre Cooper Owens is a Professor of History who explores how the field of gynaecology developed through the experimental treatment of black slave women in the American south. She is professor of history and medicine at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the author of Medical Bondage: Race, Gender, and the Origins of American Gynaecology.

Presenter: Jenni Murray
Producer: Helen Fitzhenry
Interviewed guest: Elsie Gayle
Interviewed guest: Daghni Rajasingam
Interviewed guest: Jenny Douglas
Interviewed guest: Candice Brathwaite
Interviewed guest: Remi Sade
Interviewed guest: Mars Lord
Interviewed guest: Deirdre Cooper Owens

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46 minutes

Upcoming conference on action to reduce mortality in black women and babies

MBRRACE-UK: Saving Lives, Improving Mothers’ Care

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