Black women’s ability to get adequate care during pregnancy and childbirth is an international issue.
While the United Kingdom has one of the lowest mortality rates in the world, black Brits are still five times more likely to die during pregnancy and after childcare than white women. In response, a group of black women have started the FiveXmore campaign: encouraging women to pose with five fingers up to show the challenges black women in the U.K. face giving birth.
Tinuke, a co-founder of FiveXmore, recently spoke to Metro UK about the campaign.
“We want to raise awareness to fellow black mothers and women out there to know they also have a voice and give them practical things to do to help eradicate these awful statistics,” she said.
Tinuke also started the platform Mums and Tea, a network of black mothers that provides support and arranges meetups. Lately, she has been sharing tips on what women need to know about COVID-19 and pregnancy, as well as providing a space for pregnant women and mothers to talk about the specific challenges they’re facing during the pandemic.
Women in the U.S. face far worse maternal health outcomes as a whole. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 700 women die each year from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth, enough to place the U.S. last among all developed nations with regard to maternal mortality, NBC News reports.
Mortality rates were highest for black women in the U.S.: for every 100,000 live birth, 37 black women will die (a rate that is 2.5 times greater than that of white women).
The five fingers don’t just signify the dangers black mothers face, Tinuke says, it also represents the actions they can take to address the problem. Black and Asian mothers—in the U.K., pregnant Asian women are twice as likely to die during and post-childbirth as white women—are encouraged to trust their gut feelings, do their research on pregnancy and labor, speak up about their concerns, find an advocate who can support their claims and speak up on their behalf, and seek a second opinion on diagnoses.