Muslim women even face discrimination during labor and pregnancy

“I had a nightmare during my pregnancy and I will give birth knowing full well that as a brunette woman I face significant prejudice from health professionals,” says Mariam *, 41, writer South Asian from London. .

Mariam is not alone in this feeling. According to a report by the Muslim Women’s Network and All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), one in five Muslim women say their maternity care is very poor, leading to a “culture of maternal abuse”.

During the research, 1,022 Muslim women responded to an online survey, 37 women gave in-depth interviews, and a focus group was held with Somali women.

The study suggests that Muslim women’s labor and delivery is over-medicalized. The women said they were ‘bullied’ into having labor inductions, without ‘reasonable medical justification’.

When the experiments were compared to national average statistics, the data showed that Muslim women from racialized minority communities were 1.6 times more likely to have their labor induced and 1.4 times more likely to have a clamp or a suction cup used to assist in childbirth.

They are also 1.5 times less likely to receive an epidural for pain relief and 2.1 times more likely to be in prolonged labor, with a 2.4% higher risk of postpartum hemorrhage.

There was also evidence of bias against women from specific sub-ethnic groups, such as Bangladeshi, Arab, and black women and other Asian women.

This is something that worries Mariam, as she is nearing the end of her pregnancy.

She tells the – UK: “I dread the job. I keep hearing that I’m “high risk” because of my ethnicity, which makes me cringe.

“I was put on all sorts of random drugs. For example, they ask me to inject blood thinners twice a day because they are worried that I will develop a blood clot due to family history.

“Even though I tried to resist it, they insisted that I take them…at one point the doctor called my husband’s number and complained that I was not following the medical advice he was given. they offered!”

Mariam understands that this may be partly due to age, but worries that as an Asian woman she is also over-medicalized.

The research comes at a time when failures in maternity care have been in the headlines. It follows the Ockenden Inquiry into the maternity scandal at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, which revealed a ‘chain of failures’ – including at least 304 cases where there was ‘avoidable harm’. Louise Barnett, the trust’s chief executive, said she believed “the services are safe”, but the report will be used to guide future action.

Elsewhere, campaign groups including Five X More have continued to petition against the maternal discrimination faced by black mothers, particularly the fact that they are more likely to die in childbirth than their white counterparts. The group claims that the grouping of black women under the label ‘BAME’ masks the problem and is costing women their lives.

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