Do you work in maternity care?
Use these five steps for health professionals to help reduce inequalities
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and Five X More are working together to eradicate maternal health disparities in the UK.
Currently, Black, Asian and minority ethnic pregnant women are more likely to have worse experiences in the maternity care setting, or even die during pregnancy and childbirth, when compared to white women.
We have developed five actions for healthcare professionals to adopt that will help drive change, change attitudes and put an end to these devastating inequalities.
- If a pregnant woman expresses concern, feels like something is not quite right or is in pain, take time to listen to her concerns and anxieties without making assumptions or presumptions.
- We all express our emotions differently. Some women may express their anxiety or pain with silence, agitation or a raised voice. Listen to what is being said rather than how it is being said.
2. Remove any barriers to communication
- For all women, but especially those with language barriers, it is important to make time to listen and talk with them. Take the time to explain in lay terms, what is happening and ensure that the woman is in control of their situation as much as possible.
- Use translation services if required and remember that your body language and tone are vital in helping women to feel at ease.
3. Check you are providing clear information
- After you have explained a woman’s options and made recommendations about her care, it is important that you recap or ask her to recap the information and check she understands the choices available to her. This will give her a chance to ask any questions and give her consent for the next steps in her care.
4. Provide access to detailed documentation
- Support continuity of care by accurately recording any action, treatment or medication you recommend or prescribe, a woman’s response to treatment, if she has declined any interventions and why.
- Make sure that the woman and her designated support have access to written or online information that they can read at their own convenience.
- If a woman asks for another opinion, support her with this request.
5. Be a champion
- Support research and innovation in your hospital to help to end the disparity in maternity outcomes.
- Inspire others by championing positive change in your maternity or obstetric unit. You can be a champion by valuing each and every woman in your care, equally. This will help to improve outcomes for all pregnant women.