Black women are five times more likely to die during pregnancy and childbirth than their white counterparts. Fact! Highlighting this shocking statistic is Five X More who have launched a week-long campaign (16 –22 September 2020) to raise awareness of Black women’s maternal health outcomes in the UK.
The last few months has shown us that if you are Black, you will suffer disproportionately when it comes to health outcomes and nowhere is this more prevalent than in the disparities in maternal outcomes for Black women.
Tinuke Awe didn’t have a good pregnancy with her first child. It was around this time that she first started hearing that her experience wasn’t an anomaly. After conducting more research, she was appalled to find out that negative Black maternity outcomes weren’t a new state of affairs and instead, has been the case for a very long time. On learning about the MBRRACE 2018 report which highlighted the truth that Black women in the UK are more likely to die during pregnancy and childbirth, she joined forces with her friend and maternal health advocate Clotilde Rebecca Abe and together they co-founded Five X More.
“Many women I spoke to anecdotally had terrible experiences when giving birth. They felt like they were not being listened to, their pain wasn’t taken seriously..”
The two mothers came together with the ambition of improving maternal mortality rates and health care outcomes for Black women in the UK.
Five X More, which officially launched in 2019, is a grassroots campaign dedicated to supporting mothers with its campaigning work and recommendations. It focuses on empowering Black women to make informed choices and advocate for themselves throughout their pregnancies and after childbirth.
In an interview with Patient Safety Hub, Tinuke described her motivation for creating Five X More: “Many women I spoke to anecdotally had terrible experiences when giving birth. They felt like they were not being listened to, their pain wasn’t taken seriously, or they were not given pain medication on time as a result. Also, if you look back at the statistics over the years, we can see that these disparities are not new and in fact Black women have been at a higher risk of dying since as early as 1994.”
“We hope to be able to provide a supportive platform where we can listen to Black mothers’ voices and empower them, their families and friends to advocate for themselves.”
In the short time since the launch, Five X More has made their presence felt. Their petition for the government to improve maternal mortality rates and health outcomes for Black women already has more than 150,000 signatures but is yet to be tabled for a debate in Parliament. A response from the Government earlier this summer offered a pledge to research into why there is a higher risk to Black women and other specific reforms embedded in the long-term NHS Plan, but these do not go far enough.
Five X More hopes to first raise awareness of Black women’s maternal health chances with the aim that more will be done to reverse these stats.
Tinuke said: “The theme of the awareness week is ‘Protecting Black Women’. For decades now, Black women have had a higher risk of maternal mortality in the UK and this is completely unacceptable.”
Along with sharing resources and signposting to access support, there will also be an online awareness event on Saturday 19 September featuring discussion panels with health professionals and mothers. Panellists include Dr Annabel Sowemimo and Midwide Marley, whose inspiring doodles we featured earlier this year.
Clotilde Rebecca Abe said: “We hope to be able to provide a supportive platform where we can listen to Black mothers’ voices and empower them, their families and friends to advocate for themselves. The week will also provide a place for health professionals to get a chance to learn more about the campaign and what they can do to help change these statistics.”
For more information, visit the Five X More website.