We must end the taboo of speaking about the health risk to black mums, says Sarah Jane Crawford

WITH a global pandemic and protesters on the streets for racial equality, it would be easy to assume Sarah-Jane Crawford fears for the world her daughter is about to be born into.

But the Hits Radio host, who is eight months pregnant with her first child, is convinced it is about to become a much better place. 

Radio host Sarah-Jane Crawford is expecting a baby girl


Radio host Sarah-Jane Crawford is expecting a baby girl

Sarah-Jane, 36, says: “I honestly do believe that in the wake of heartbreak comes healing. This year has become a tipping point on so many fronts.

“We’re all talking more, we’re sharing our experiences and out of the darkness comes hope.”

Last year, she suffered her own heartbreak with a miscarriage, which she has not spoken about publicly before.

Since then, the presenter has set up Instagram account Mums The Word to tackle the taboos surrounding female fertility and pregnancy complications, especially within the BAME (black, asian and minority ethnic) community.

Sarah-Jane with partner Brian Barry-Murphy, 41, a League One manager


Sarah-Jane with partner Brian Barry-Murphy, 41, a League One manager

Cases of postnatal depression are 13 per cent higher in BAME mums than white mothers. And black women in the UK are five times more likely to die of complications in pregnancy. 

Sarah-Jane, who has West African and Irish heritage, says: “I was shocked to learn about the disparities.

“We really need more research done to find out why this is happening and how we stop it. 

“We need to make sure we have culturally competent services with healthcare professionals who understand the differences between the communities.”

Sarah-Jane opens up for the first time about her miscarriage last year


Sarah-Jane opens up for the first time about her miscarriage last year

We want our girl to feel pride in who she is

Mum’s The Word involves Sarah-Jane speaking to health professionals, charities and mothers to discuss parenting and pregnancy. 

She says: “When I found out the bad news about my miscarriage, I was on my own, so it was quite traumatising. 

“That was just me deciding one day off the cuff, ‘Oh, I think I’m going to go for a quick private scan and see what’s going on’ because I was feeling weird. They couldn’t find  the heartbeat. You think everything’s going to be fine, and suddenly it’s not.”

Despite conceiving naturally, Sarah-Jane, who lives in Manchester, wanted to do more research into her body and fertility, to help regain control.

The radio host has been researching birth risks for black mums


The radio host has been researching birth risks for black mumsCredit: Splash News

She says: “Fertility is such a taboo subject, even now.  There’s a sense of shame around it.

“I don’t think women want to admit they are struggling but actually, if you speak to most women these days, everyone seems to be having trouble in one way or another.

“Unless you go through it, I don’t think people realise how much of a dark place it can be worrying about fertility, age and all that kind of stuff. 

“With this social media series I want it to be something for everyone because mental health doesn’t discriminate. But I definitely will focus some of my content on the black community because I think it’s something that’s close to my heart.” 

Sarah-Jane is determined that her daughter won't face the racism she did


Sarah-Jane is determined that her daughter won’t face the racism she didCredit: Getty – Contributor

‘Change is happening’

Sarah-Jane has faced her fair share of racism over the years — from being made to feel uncomfortable about her lips by other schoolchildren to being told she is giving “black attitude” and hearing racist jokes dressed up as “banter”.

But these experiences have made her determined to change that for her little girl, who will grow up in a mixed-race household. Dad-to-be Brian Barry-Murphy, 41, is a white Irishman, who manages Rochdale football club in League One. 

Sarah-Jane says: “We have no idea if our daughter will have skin like mine, hair like Brian’s. Who knows? At the end of the day we want her to feel pride in who she is.

“We want her to see the beauty in everything and of course herself. 

“Sometimes I think it’s so sad we have to teach kids about racism but on the other hand it’s a good thing.

“They are our next generation and if we raise them to love people for who they are then the world is going to be in a much better place.

“I’m actually excited about the world she’s going to grow up in. It feels like change is happening.”

  • Find out more about Mum’s The Word at @sarahjanecrawford on Instagram.
Thousands gather for peaceful Black Lives Matter protests across the country for fourth weekend running

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