Wednesday’s Session

Decolonising Midwifery Education

Zaheera Essat, Bernadette Gregory and Dr Diane Ménage  

In midwifery practice, skin assessment is an important element of any physical examination of women and babies. Alongside interventionist procedures such as blood tests  noninterventionist clinical midwifery skills focus on visual and tactile cues to assist with the identification of changes in skin appearance. Although visual signals are more readily discernible in women with light skin tones, they may be more challenging to detect in women with darker skin tones.  

Recent MBRRACE reports on maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality in the UK have highlighted the stark health disparities between women and babies from those from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnicities (BAME) compared with those who identify as white.  It might be possible that a lack of understanding on how deviations from the norm may manifest in individuals with Brown and dark skin could mean that early developing morbidity is missed.  

The COVID-19 pandemic may also have magnified the problem as F2F contacts were reduced. 

As a means of decolonising midwifery theory and practice, the midwifery team at DMU highlighted ways in which midwives can develop confidence in skin assessment when caring for women and babies with dark skin tones in 2 open access articles in The Practising Midwife last year that gained international recognition and ignited a debate in midwifery circles as to what and how we teach these clinical skills to student midwives and registrants undertaking post qualification courses.    

As part of the drive towards decolonisation in midwifery theory and practice reviewing resources and teaching materials it is envisaged that this work will in help build momentum in terms of midwives being colour aware instead of colour blind.  

It is envisaged that some of the authors could hold a Q n A forum session using an adjunct of visual aids to show resources and highlight some case studies /scenarios highlighting potential for harm and importance of this work.    

Session slides can be accessed here

Decolonising Creative Expression: Empowering Self and Others

AFLO. the poet is a Brighton based spoken word artist, activist and academic. Focusing on race, mental health, trauma recovery and decolonial understandings, AFLO. uses poetry as a vehicle to address hard-hitting topics. AFLO. started her journey into poetry as a means of listening to herself and allowing herself to be heard, and has now developed spaces and platforms to enable others to do the same, with a particular focus on people with marginalised identities. She has incorporated poetry into her activism, sharing poetry alongside speeches to encourage a different mode of listening, reflection and engagement. Without formal training or qualifications related to creative writing or poetry, AFLO. the poet encourages a decolonial approach to creativity, believing that we must first decolonise our minds and creative expressions before we can meaningfully tackle larger systems and institutions. As an academic, AFLO. the poet is a lived experience researcher currently working on her PhD at the University of Brighton, exploring Black people’s experiences of psychosis and intimacy and incorporating Poetic Inquiry as a method of reflection within her research.

In her keynote session, AFLO. will talk about her journey with poetry and share some of her work.