Birthrights. Systemic racism, not broken bodies: an inquiry into racial injustice and human rights in UK maternity care. 2022. http//Birthrights-inquiry-systemic-racism_execsummary_May-22-web.pdf (accessed 18 March 2024)

MBRRACE-UK perinatal mortality surveillance, UK perinatal deaths for births from January to December 2021: state of the nation report. 2023. https// (accessed 18 March 2024)

Muslim Women's Network UK. Invisible – maternity experiences of muslim women (full report). 2022. https// (accessed 18 March 2024)

Office for National Statistics. Vital statistics in the UK: births, deaths and marriages. Annual UK and constituent country figures for births, deaths, marriages, divorces, civil partnerships and civil partnership dissolutions. 2023. https// (accessed 6 February 2023)

The Black maternity experiences survey: a nationwide study of Black women's experiences of maternity services in the United Kingdom. 2022. https// (accessed 18 March 2024)

Sands. The Sands listening project: learning from the experiences of Black and Asian bereaved parents. 2023. https// (accessed 8 February 2024)

Learning from bereaved parents

02 April 2024
Volume 32 · Issue 4


Mehali Patel and Julia Clark discuss the Sands Listening Project, and what was learnt from the experiences of Black and Asian bereaved parents

Sands is committed to reducing inequalities in pregnancy loss and baby deaths. We believe that listening to parents can save babies' lives. In the UK, around 4800 babies are stillborn or die within their first 28 days of life (Office for National Statistics, 2023).

Over the past 10 years, UK stillbirth and neonatal death rates have generally declined, but families from Black and Asian backgrounds remain more likely to experience pregnancy loss or the death of a baby compared with White families (Draper et al, 2023). If between 2017 and 2021, the rates of stillbirth and neonatal death for Black and Asian babies had been the same as for White babies, 1704 more babies would have survived. No baby should be at an increased risk of dying because of their ethnicity.

There are many complex factors that can affect an individual baby's chances of dying. However, the accounts of Black, Asian and mixed ethnicity women and birthing people indicate that systemic issues and discrimination contribute to unsafe maternity and neonatal care for some families (Birthrights, 2022; Muslim Women's Network UK, 2022; Peter and Wheeler, 2022).

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