Released on: 11 November 2021
In response to today’s Maternal Mortality Surveillance Report from MBRRACE-UK, Angela McConville, Chief Executive, NCT, said:
This latest report on maternal deaths from MBRRACE-UK is deeply saddening and we extend our sympathy and condolences to those who have suffered. Each loss will profoundly impact the lives of motherless babies and families.
The statistics once again show the stark effects of socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds on pregnancies. Black women are still four times more likely to die than white women during maternity, and Asian women are twice as likely to die. Other inequalities have continued to grow - women living in the most deprived areas are twice as likely to die than those in the most affluent.
MBRRACE-UK rightly calls on clinicians not to ignore signs of dangerous diseases such as cancer in pregnant women or postnatally when most deaths occur. However, postnatal care has been eroded so badly that basic health checks are not always carried out and potentially fatal conditions can be missed.
Maternal suicide remains the leading direct cause of death in the first year after pregnancy. MBRRACE-UK researchers found that in 67% of these cases, improvements in care could have made a difference to the outcome. Postnatal depression and other mental illnesses must be identified and treated swiftly as they can spiral out of control.
NCT’s #HiddenHalf campaign found that half of new mums in the UK (50%) said they experience emotional or mental health problems during pregnancy or within a year of their child’s birth. Our latest research found that a quarter (25%) of new mothers are still not being asked about their mental health despite GP practices in England now being funded to do so.
Perinatal mental health has rightly gained improved attention and resources in recent years. However, it’s clear much more needs to be done to help mothers to navigate the fragmented, often difficult postnatal journey.