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SERIES 3 EP.12: Unconscious Bias

In this last episode of Midwifery Hour series three, Sue Macdonald, Curator, Maternity & Midwifery Festivals; Co-editor, Mayes Midwifery was joined by Lola Ornato, Midwife, Whittington NHS Trust.


This session discussed unconscious bias and reflected on the past year in maternity and midwifery.


The Covid-19 pandemic has identified and exacerbated inequalities in our society, and within the organisations in that society. The findings of reports such as MBRRACE indicating the huge differences in mortality for women of colour and white women, indicate that this needs to be addressed urgently within the maternity services. The major theme of systemic and personal racism and bias are being discussed with the aim of confronting both, and improving the outcomes and experience of women, babies and their families, and of midwives and maternity service workers also.


In this session, Lola will raise the issues faced by black and brown women and their families, as well as for midwives and those working in the NHS.


This episode of the Maternity & Midwifery Hour – proudly supported by MATFLIX – focused on unconscious bias.


Host Sue Macdonald (Curator, Maternity & Midwifery Festivals; Co-editor, Mayes Midwifery) was joined by Lola Ornato, Midwife, Whittington NHS Trust with reflections on the presentations below.


Lola Ornato: BAME Perspectives from the Frontline

Alicia Burnett: Dismantling Racism & Inequalities in Midwifery Education

Sarah Esegbona-Adeigbe: Dismantling Racism & Inequalities in Midwifery Education

Mars Lord: Working together to bring reproductive justice


Watch the Maternity & Midwifery Hour highlights now:


Lola Ornato


Sue Macdonald


Maternity and Midwifery Hour Review


Student, Rachel has reviewed the Maternity and Midwifery Hour in her own words.


This week’s episode, the series 3 finale, was hosted by Sue MacDonald and welcomed midwife Lola Ornato.


This episode explored the term “unconscious bias”, a bias which someone has that they are unaware of, making assumptions about someone because of the colour of their skin or culture, even bias because of someone’s name.


Unconscious bias can have many effects on maternity care, including a savage circle starting with Black and Brown women not being treated with respect, which leads to unacceptable levels of morbidity and mortality, leading to marginalised communities becoming reluctant to engage in maternity services, which then leads to marginalised communities being labelled as “unwilling to engage”, and so the cycle of substandard care continues.


Lola discussed some examples of unconscious bias in practice, for example not recognising or refusing to recognise some skin conditions because the woman or baby has a darker skin tone, a bizarre assumption that Black and Brown people do not require analgesia because they don’t feel pain and automatically assuming that Black and Brown women have poor English skills because they have an accent or because of what they look like. This can all lead to a person’s rapid deterioration, not understanding information and substandard care.


We need to be able to acknowledge and accept that we all have biases. We have to make a conscious effort to put these biases aside and educate ourselves, colleagues and peers around us. We have so many resources at our disposal to educate ourselves, like social media. This was a very important discussion and a stark reminder that we have to keep fighting biases and tolerance of this behaviour. Recognising that there is a bias is the first step to fighting it.


Watch Rachel's review's here.

You can listen to the episode on your podcast app of choice: Spotify, Apple Podcasts or Anchor.


DATE FOR YOUR DIARY: The next series begins on 14 April 2021 and will go LIVE on every Wednesday thereafter for 12 consecutive weeks.


Catch up on Series 1 -3 here.


This hour was produced by Neil Stewart Associates and filmed by Narrowcast Media Group.

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