New midwifery role to support BAME mothers-to-be using lessons learned during Covid-19 pandemic.

New midwifery role to support BAME mothers-to-be using lessons learned during Covid-19 pandemic.

Maria Benedetti, Lead Midwife for Multi-Ethnic Empowerment at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, is using lessons learned during the Covid-19 pandemic to support mothers-to-be from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds(BAME).

Her new role was introduced at the Trust in January this year, however, the Covid-19 pandemic meant she was recalled to her clinical role. However, now, with experience gained working with pregnant women through the pandemic, she is looking at ways to make care more inclusive for all women.

She said: “BAME women are more likely to experience poor obstetric outcomes in comparison with white British women and the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted these differences even more.

“My role was introduced to work with our midwifery teams to identify any gaps and how we can improve our services to ensure we are inclusive to all women. Before Covid-19 hit I spent time going into community areas where we have high numbers of BAME pregnant women and finding out more about their experiences of maternity care. 

“I’ve also spent time with our Bereavement and Safeguarding teams, as stillbirth and domestic violence are more prevalent in our BAME communities. We know we need to take into account cultural differences and adapt our services.”

Marie had only just finished her initial report and recommendations when the pandemic struck. Now she is back prioritising this work, using her experience during the pandemic to look at additional recommendations. 

Among her other plans include setting up a virtual support group where women can share their experiences, and relaunching the Maternity Voices Partnership, a group run by local mums, with a more diverse membership.

Any women who have any concerns during their pregnancy should call the Trust’s 24-hour maternity helpline on 01708 503 742. More information on maternity care during the pandemic can be found on the Trust’s website.

The 38-year-old mum-of-four, who wanted to become a midwife after becoming a teen mum, has also shared her take on the Black Lives Matter movement.

She added: “I grew up in Portugal, where it was predominantly white, so I was used to experiencing very direct racism. Moving to the UK gave me my first taste of diversity – I was shocked when I saw a black person working in a bank. For the first time, I didn’t feel different.

“When George Floyd hit the news I couldn’t believe this was still happening – that’s what I grew up with. It brought up feelings I hadn’t dealt with for years and led to lots of open conversations with my husband, my family and colleagues.

“I’ve never wanted to be a victim, we need to see change and that comes from challenging people in the right way. I’ve learned things too by listening to my children’s experiences – I never felt the need to discuss race while raising my children but I was surprised when my eldest son Rafael told me I’d never experienced being a black teenage boy. He was right, and I was shocked to hear what he was feeling.”

Read Maria’s full In Conversation With interview on the Trust’s website.

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