BAME and pregnant - What You Need to Know About Covid-19by Laura Driver
If you’re pregnant and from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background, read on to find out how to stay informed, safe and supported during the pandemic.
The UKOSS study in May revealed a significant and worrying fact that 55% of pregnant women admitted to hospital with coronavirus were from a black, Asian or ethnic minority (BAME) background.
Public Health England (PHE) has now also confirmed that people from black and Asian backgrounds are more likely to be affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
People of Bangladeshi ethnicity had around twice the risk of death when compared to people of white British ethnicity. People of Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, other Asian, Caribbean and other black ethnicity had between 10 and 50% higher risk of death when compared to white British.
Why are people from BAME backgrounds more at risk?
The answer is complicated and based on a combination of factors. People from BAME communities are:
- More likely to be at increased risk of getting the infection because there’s a greater chance they live in urban areas, overcrowded households, deprived areas, and have jobs that expose them to higher risk.
- More likely than people of white British ethnicity to be born abroad. This can mean they may face additional barriers in accessing services because of cultural and language differences.
- More likely to have some health factors that increase their risk of being more seriously affected by COVID-19. For example, people of Bangladeshi and Pakistani background have higher rates of heart disease than people from white British ethnicity, and people of black Caribbean and black African ethnicity have higher rates of hypertension compared with other ethnic groups. Type II diabetes is also higher in people from BAME communities.
Staying safe if you’re BAME and pregnant
If you’re from a BAME background, it’s important to be aware of the issues discussed above. But there are also practical ways to protect yourself and stay safe:
- Continue to follow government guidance on staying alert and safe including social distancing, particularly important in your third trimester.
- Follow good hygiene practice, such as washing your hands, when you return from outside.
- Consider a face mask in crowded spaces.
- Consider Vitamin D supplements.
- Rest, sleep and exercise to help stay healthy.
- If you have hypertension, diabetes or a heart condition, talk to your GP or midwife if you have any concerns.
- If you develop more severe symptoms or your recovery is slow, please seek help.
- Continue to attend your antenatal appointment and check-ups.
- If you feel you are being treated differently, report and flag this within your maternity team.
Reassurance and support when you need it
If you are BAME and pregnant, all of these statistics might make you feel concerned or more anxious. That’s understandable. But you should also feel reassured that extra care and attention is being paid to this inequality and your care.
For instance, your maternity team may book you additional appointments, or refer you to a doctor or specialist clinic if there any concerns about your health or your baby’s.
The healthcare professionals looking after you will also advise you during appointments about higher risks that affect you. You will be encouraged and supported to seek help early if you are concerned about your health or your baby.
The Royal College of Midwives has also developed new guidance for midwives and maternity support workers to ensure that they are aware of the increased risks for BAME women and can pass on relevant advice and support to women in their care.
The NHS website has a specific pregnancy and coronavirus page, which has all the latest information and guidance about support services.