Decolonising midwifery education: co-producing a toolkit
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Royal College of Midwives, London, United Kingdom
Publication date: 2023-10-24
Corresponding author
Heather Bower   

Royal College of Midwives, London, United Kingdom
Eur J Midwifery 2023;7(Supplement 1):A70
The influence of colonialism on education, including midwifery education, persists. It affects recruitment into midwifery as well as content and delivery of the curricula. There is evidence that colonialism also affects maternal and neonatal outcomes. Recent reports in the UK have revealed that Black women are nearly four times as likely to die in childbirth as their White peers1. The infant mortality rate in Black infants is over twice that of White infants2. Two recent reports have called for decolonisation of education in maternity care3,4.

Material and Methods:
Despite a growth of generic information about decolonising higher education, the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) identified a gap in specific information around decolonising midwifery education. We set up two stakeholder groups representing midwifery lecturers, midwives, students, maternity support workers, maternity service users, social scientists, NGOs, professional body and RCM staff. The groups decided to produce an educational toolkit with the aim of empowering midwifery educators to challenge the colonial perspectives inherent in all aspects of midwifery education. The groups met frequently, formed four working groups, and co-produced a decolonising midwifery education toolkit over a nine-month period.

The toolkit was developed in four sections: recruitment, curriculum, assessment and practice. In each section, there is an outline of the issues, followed by best practice statements and reflective questions. The toolkit does not aim to provide definitive answers about how to decolonise midwifery education, but to provide initial guidance within each of the four sections to enhance inclusive education for midwifery students. Following much discussion on inclusive language, the toolkit adopts the terms ‘global majority’ and ‘racialised minority’ to embrace the diversity of students, midwifery educators, women and babies.

The toolkit was co-produced following collaborative participation by all stakeholders and was launched at the RCM Education and Research conference in March 2023. It was posted to every UK university with a midwifery education programme. It is freely available on the RCM website. It is the first known Decolonising Midwifery Education Toolkit and aims to initiate conversations about inclusivity and racial disparity in education and practice. It is hoped to influence midwifery education to improve the lived experience of global majority students as well as improving maternity care outcomes for racialised minority women, birthing people and families.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.
Royal College of Midwives.
Knight M, Bunch K, Patel R, Shakespeare J, Kotnis R, Kenyon S, Kurinczuk J (eds). On behalf of MBRRACE-UK Saving Lives, Improving Mothers’ Care Core Report – Lessons learned to inform maternity care form the UK and Ireland Confidential Enquiries into Maternal Deaths and Morbidity 2018-20. Oxford: National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit, University of Oxford; 2022
Office for National Statistics. Births and infant mortality by ethnicity in England and Wales: 2007-2019. Published May 26, 2021. Accessed April 17, 2023.
Birthrights. Systemic racism, not broken bodies. An inquiry into racial injustice and human rights in UK maternity care. London: Birthrights; 2022
Peter M, Wheeler R. The Black Maternity Experiences Survey. A nationwide study of Black women’s experiences of maternity services in the United Kingdom. London: FiveXMore; 2022
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