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Miscarriage: 'I was in pain and they did not listen'

PUBLISHED

Research shows black women are at a 40% higher risk of pregnancy loss than white women.

It is an urgent problem, which the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says needs greater attention, with many complex reasons driving this higher risk.

These include a lack of quality research involving all ethnicities - but RCOG head Dr Edward Morris says implicit racial bias is also affecting some women's experience of care.

Isabel Gomes Obasi and her husband, Paulson, from Coventry, are expecting a baby boy in March. They are extremely anxious as almost a year ago their baby boy Andre died four months into Isabel's pregnancy.

Giving birth to Andre was extremely traumatic, Isabel says, but how she was treated when in severe pain and bleeding, in the days before her loss, made the experience worse.

"We knew something was wrong, so we went into hospital and waited five hours to be seen by a doctor," she says. "I remember being laughed at by one of the nurses, who said, 'Just go home. Why do you keep coming in?'"

Isabel was checked over and told the baby was fine but says her intuition and pain were belittled and ignored.

Within 48 hours of going home, Isabel began bleeding heavily.

There is little doctors can do at this relatively early stage of pregnancy to save a baby's life. But the feeling of not being listened to has stayed with Isabel ever since.

"I just shut down," she says. "The experience made me anxious and depressive, if not suicidal."

Asked why she was not listened to, she said: "The colour of my skin,"  the attitude of some staff was: "'You have black skin - you are not from here - you can wait.'"

Dr Morris says it is "unacceptable" women belonging to ethnic minorities face worse outcomes than white women - especially in maternity care.

"Implicit racial bias from medical staff can hinder consultations and negatively influence treatment options," he says.

This can stop some women engaging with healthcare.

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Source: BBC News, 8 February 2022

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