Midwives from DMU decolonise their curriculum to ensure care is equal for all

A team of midwifery lecturers from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) have published a report into decolonising teaching when it comes to assessing the health of women and babies.

They say midwifery teaching needs to be ‘colour aware’ rather than ‘colour blind’. 


The papers have been compiled by Senior Lecturers Maureen Rayner and Dr Diane Menage, Lecturer Dr Zaheera Essat and Senior Lecturers Maxine Chapman, Bernadette Gregory and Rachel Wells - who are all registered midwives - to ensure teaching includes people with different skin colours.  

In order to decolonise the curriculum at DMU the team decided to review everything from illustrations and diagrams in textbooks to models of babies and mothers, ensuring there is representation of diversity.  

The inclusive approach to teaching and learning has been published in this month’s edition of Practising Midwife, whose editors felt the information was so important that it has been given open access.

The new approach to the curriculum also appears on all4maternity, an online platform to educate those working with mothers and babies. 

Bernadette Gregory said: “We felt very strongly about this as a team. We needed to do more than just say the curriculum was wrong. We needed to do something about it. 


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“This not only addresses the vital issues of identifying how different conditions may present themselves in women with different skin colours, but also reflects the diversity of our student midwives. Our students should see themselves reflected in our teaching and learning.” 

With skin being the biggest human organ, it is essential that midwives and maternity workers observe any changes during pregnancy, take visual cues from changes in skin colour during child birth and visually assess babies’ skin once they are born. 

The DMU Midwifery report in Practising Midwife says: “Decolonisation in midwifery theory and practice is helpful in building momentum in terms of midwives being colour aware instead of colour blind. 

“Colour awareness is an important consideration when conducting examination of maternal skin in midwifery practice. This is a necessary step in order to reduce health disparities and be thorough and inclusive in our approach of all women and babies, regardless of their ethnicity and skin colour.” 

Dr Zaheera Essat said: “This is just the starting point of the conversations we need to have. We need to continue to explore ways to reduce health disparities among Black, Asian and minoritized women and birthing people.”  

You can read the research by the DMU midwives below. 

The teaching comes under two headings:  

Decolonising DMU is an ongoing institution-wide project to ensure there is no racial disparity in the university, in the makeup of staff, in the way the university teaches and the experience students receive as well as the choices made as educators. You can read more here

Posted on Thursday 29th July 2021

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