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Rochelle Humes: It broke me as a mother to learn about black maternity disparity

Rochelle Humes (Ian West/PA)
Rochelle Humes (Ian West/PA)

Rochelle Humes has said “as a mother it broke me” to learn about the number of black women who die in pregnancy and childbirth.

The singer and TV star, 32, is presenting the Channel 4 Dispatches documentary The Black Maternity Scandal and said she only learned black women are four times more likely to die in pregnancy than white women when she was expecting her third child.

Humes and husband Marvin Humes welcomed son Blake in October 2020.

They are already parents to daughters Alaia-Mai, seven, and Valentina Raine, four.

She told ITV’s This Morning: “I was approached to do this doc at a time when – last year – so I was early pregnant with Blake and at that time the figure was five times more.

“And I was compelled to know why, the fact that women are dying or are ‘near misses’ in and around childbirth and they’re more at risk of that because of their skin colour.

“I was compelled to find out more and I suppose to use my voice to help amplify the voices of women that are campaigning for this tirelessly for years now.”

She added: “I’ve met so many brilliant women on this journey and they have been so brave and incredible opening up.

“Some women haven’t spoken with their family about this and they’ve trusted me and us with their story.

“The main issue that comes to play is that black women aren’t feeling like their pain is being taken seriously or that they’re listened to and that is the underlying issue that comes up time after time.”

Humes said she was supposed to start filming the documentary last year but it felt “too heavy” when she was still pregnant.

Asked if making the film affected her as a mother, she replied: “100%.

“I don’t think you have to be a mother for it to affect you. On a human level, it’s not OK.

“The disparities are so vast and it’s not OK, and as a mother it broke me really, it really did.”

Discussing what she hopes the impact will be, Humes said; “What I really hope for is by making noise about this, is that we get a solid commitment from the Government to introduce a target because that is what we haven’t seen.

“We did approach them to come on the doc and be interviewed. Unfortunately, they declined that and offered us a statement, which is unfortunate and disappointing.”

She continued: “First of all, I think we need that level of commitment. There’s talks of introducing a target and who is going to do that, is it the Government? Is it the NHS?

“I think we need to know when that is, so by this date we are going to make sure that we are committed to making this number drop. That’s a big factor.

“I think an element that gives me real hope is that there’s a scheme that they are introducing now, which is called the Continuity of Care, which essentially means when you are a pregnant woman you will receive the same team.

“So you will have the same midwife and if she is not around or free, I think there will be a team of three of them. So you’re familiar with those people, they know your pregnancy, they know your journey. You are on the same wavelength, you’ve got the same rapport, you’ve got a relationship with that person.

“I think that will be the key for change… that you’ve got that same person that you’ve got that relationship with, that listens to you and I think every woman deserves that, right?”

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