Support for pregnant Black women

Posted on Monday 10th October 2022

Guy’s and St Thomas’ has become one of the first Trusts in the UK to pilot new resources to help reduce the risk of death in childbirth for pregnant Black women.

The Trust has partnered with the campaign group Five X More to introduce their Colourful Birth Wallets for Black women who are pregnant.

The A4 sized plastic wallets are given to women to hold medical notes they need to bring to their antenatal appointments.

Both sides of the wallet contains information to empower Black women to make informed decisions about their maternity care.

They include six recommendations – speak up, find an advocate, seek a second opinion, trust your gut feeling, do your research and document everything.

Five X More was set up in 2019 by Guy’s and St Thomas’ maternity voices partnership co-chair Clotilde Abe and Tinuke Awe to help address Black maternal health inequalities.

Although, overall, Black women who are cared for by the Guy’s and St Thomas’ maternity team receive very specialist care and experience a positive birth for themselves and their baby, across the UK Black women are four times more likely to die during pregnancy and childbirth compared with white women. In 2019, they were five times more likely to die which is where the name of the campaign group comes from.

Mercy Ughwujabo, consultant midwife at Guy’s and St Thomas’, said: “We are very proud to support Five X More and we are delighted to be one of the first trusts in the UK to pilot their Colourful Birth Wallets for pregnant Black women.

“All patients, no matter their background, deserve to receive the very best care, but we know that Black women can experience racism, discrimination and unconscious bias leading to poor maternal health outcomes.

“We serve a very diverse patient population and our Trust is committed to supporting inclusion and equality. It’s really important to us that we are doing everything we can to improve care for Black women.

“As a Black woman myself this campaign is very close to my heart and I have really enjoyed working with Clotilde and Tinuke to raise awareness of these issues across our Trust.”

Clotilde, a mum-of-two, said: “I hope that our Colourful Birth Wallets will enable women to feel empowered and that they can speak up. During my own pregnancy experience I didn’t know that I could seek a second opinion, that I should trust my gut or that I could document everything.

"So this is a reminder to say this is what you’re able to do, and this is what your rights are."

Last year, Five X More partnered with Guy’s and St Thomas’ to pilot their ‘I am here to listen’ staff training scheme.

During the pilot, staff were taught Five X More’s five steps for healthcare professionals to ensure safer care for Black women.

The training was developed in conjunction with the Royal College of Obstetricians.

After the training, staff received a ‘we are here to listen’ pin badge to wear on their uniform to highlight to pregnant women that they have been trained by Five X More.

Fast facts

  • More than 6,000 babies are born under the care of Guy’s and St Thomas’ every year
  • Guy’s and St Thomas’ runs specialist antenatal clinics for a range of conditions including diabetes, epilepsy and heart disease
  • The Trust also runs a pre-conception counselling service for people with pre-existing conditions wishing to get pregnant.