Much more work needed to improve Muslim women’s experience of maternity care says RCM

on 12 July 2022 RCM Maternity Services Midwifery Workforce Midwives MSWs - Maternity Support Workers Safe high quality care Pregnancy Women Women's Choice NHS Education Midwife Training

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has today reaffirmed its position that discrimination has no place in maternity care as it responds to a new report on Muslim women’s experience of maternity care.

The research undertaken by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Muslim Women and the Muslim Women’s Network UK interviewed over 1,000 women and found cases of unacceptable poor clinical care. In some cases, inductions where without reasonable medical justifications, which is not always in the best or safest interest of the mother and baby says the RCM.

The report highlights the experiences of Muslim women being poorer compared to the national average and that women from racialised minority communities were 1.5 times less likely to be given an epidural for pain relief. Some of those interviewed also experienced care they considered to be prejudiced.

Commenting, RCM’s Head of Education, Fiona Gibb says;

“This report makes for heart breaking reading. Feeling invisible is a strong feature in this report and no woman whatever her ethnicity or background should feel invisible or unheard during their maternity journey. Women being denied choice, with care not personalised to risk is unsafe and unacceptable. Many of the themes echo other recent reports from Birthrights and FiveXMore. It’s also distressing to see that some of the prejudices experienced by the women in this report has come from the very staff there to care for them. The RCM is committed to being anti-racist and supporting midwives and maternity support workers of all colours and backgrounds to do what they can to improve the care, they deliver to all women”.

The RCM welcomes and supports the recommendations in this report, but say they believe more must be done to help support all maternity staff to improve interpersonal and cultural competency skills. key to this is ensuing staff have enough time to attend training – an issue that has been flagged in numerous safety reports including most recently by Donna Ockenden. Also, with a current shortage of 2,500 midwives in England alone, women aren’t always getting the time they need with their midwife were concerns can be picked up and thorough information and advice can be shared. This time is particularly important for women with higher risk pregnancies or those who have existing underlying medical conditions

Fiona added:

“Part of our work at the RCM is to support research and champion positive change in outcomes for not only Muslim women, but for all women from different ethnic backgrounds. Embedding specific equality, diversity and inclusion in midwifery education is also vital to improve racial and religious inequalities in maternity care and work is underway at the College to support the decolonisation of midwifery curriculums.”

As well as listening to women experiences the RCM says the report has highlighted something the RCM have long called for – improvements in data collection. The RCM say they are using their position to lobby and influence NHS bodies and Governments across all four nations of the UK to improve the collection of data from those with individual minority ethnic backgrounds, so they aren’t all banded together so needs and risks can be better assessed.


 To contact the RCM Media Office call 020 7312 3456, or email [email protected]






About the RCM

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team.  We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance, and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences, and online resources. For more information visit the RCM | A professional organisation and trade union dedicated to serving the whole midwifery team