Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic women and children have an increased risk of some poor outcomes:

  • stillbirth – babies of Afro-Caribbean and African mothers have more than double the risk of stillbirth, and babies of Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani mothers have an increased risk, compared with babies of White mothers (CMACE, 2011; Gardosi, 2013)
  • low birthweight – Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi babies are 2.5 times more likely than White babies to have a low birthweight, and Black Caribbean and Black African babies are 60% more likely to have a low birthweight (Kelly, 2008)
  • preterm birth – babies of Afro-Caribbean and African mothers are at increased risk compared to babies of mothers of other ethnic origins (Aveyard et al, 2002; Office for National Statistics, 2016)
  • congenital abnormalities – babies of mothers of born in India and Bangladesh are at increased risk and babies of mothers born in Pakistan are three times more likely than babies of mothers born in the UK to be born with a congenital abnormality (Blarajan et al, 1987)
  • severe maternal morbidity – Black and Minority Ethnic women are 50% more likely than White women to suffer severe maternal morbidity, and the risk is more than double for women of African and Afro-Caribbean origin (Knight et al, 2009)
  • maternal death –  Black mothers are four times more likely to die in pregnancy or in the year after birth than White mothers (Knight et al, 2016)
  • late booking for antenatal care - women of South Asian origin are likely to initiate care later and have fewer antenatal visits than White women; women who are asylum seekers or refugees are disproportionately represented within unbooked births (Rowe & Garcia, 2003)

Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic women are also less likely to have positive experiences of maternity care. The National Maternity Survey (Redshaw & Henderson, 2015) found that, compared with White women, they were:

  • less likely to have the first antental contact by 12 weeks, less likely to be offered antenatal classes, less likely to feel they had enough information about their choices for maternity care, less likely to feel they were always involved in decisions about antenatal care, and less likely to feel their midwives were always respectful
  • less likely to feel they were always involved in decisions during labour and birth, and less likely to have always had trust and confidence in staff during laobur and birth
  • more likely to have a postnatal stay in hospital of more than three days but less likely to feel they were always treated with respect by hospital staff

Improving care – information and resources

Muslim parents

Ali N & Burchett H. Experiences of maternity services: Muslim women’s perspectives. Maternity Alliance 2004

Gypsy Travellers

Van Cleemput P et al. Health Status of Gypsies and Travellers in England. Report of Qualitative Findings. Oct 2004 

Bennett S. Integrated care pathways for Gypsy Roma Travellers in Leeds 2013

Condon L, Salmon D. “You likes your way, we got our own way”: Gypsies and traveller’s views on infant feeding and health professional support. Health Expectations 2014. [PMC free article]

Friends, Families and Travellers

Asylum seekers and refugees

McLeish J. Mothers in exile. Maternity experiences of asylum seekers in the UK. Maternity Alliance 2002

Maternity Action information for asylum seekers on maternity rights and benefits

Maternity Action information for refused asylum seekers on maternity rights and benefits

Waugh M. The Mothers in Exile Project: Women Asylum Seekers' and Refugees' Experiences of Pregnancy and Childbirth in Leeds. Womens Health Matters, 2010

McCarthy R, Haith-Cooper M. Evaluating the impact of befriending for pregnant asylum seeking and refugee women. British Journal of Midwifery, 2013 21(6):404-409

City of Sanctuary Maternity Stream

Refugee Council

Female genital mutilation

Royal College of Nursing. Female genital mutilation. An RCN resource for nursing and midwifery practice. 2016


Access to free NHS care for women from overseas

Maternity Action Entitlement to free NHS care

Other language resources

Action on Pre-Eclampsia

Pre-eclampsia information in over 20 languages

Bump to Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding DVD in English, Arabic, Urdu, Bengali, Polish, Somali, and British Sign Language.

Fun first foods: An easy guide to introducing solid foods  Health Scotland
Available in Mandarin, Polish, Turkish and Urdu.

Lullaby Trust SIDS Easy Read Card

Available in 20+ languages

Miscarriage Association
Many leaflets available online including some translated in Arabic, Bengali, Gujarati, Punjabi, Turkish and Urdu.

National Literacy Trust: Bilingual quick tips

Available in 15+ languages


Aveyard P, Cheng K, Manaseki S, Gardosi J (2002). The risk of preterm delivery in women of different ethnic groups. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 109:894-899.

Blarajan R, Soni Raleigh V, Botting B (1987). Mortality from congenital malformations in England and Wales: variations by mother’s country of birth. Archives of Disease in Childhood 62(7):709-711.

Centre for Maternal and Child Enquiries (CMACE) (2011). Perinatal Mortality 2009. CMACE, London

Gardosi J, Madurasinghe V, Williams M, Malik A, Francis A (2013). Maternal and fetal risk factors for stillbirth: population based study

Kelly Y, Panico L, Bartley M, Marmot M, Nazroo J, Sacker A (2008). Why does birthwight vary among ethnic groups in the UK? Findings from the Millenium Cohort Study. Journal of Public Health, 31(1):131–137

Knight M, Kurinczuk JJ, Spark P, Brocklehurst P (2009). Inequalities in maternal health: national cohort study of ethnic variation in severe maternal morbidity. BMJ338:b542.Knight M, Nair M, Tuffnell D, Kenyon S, Shakespeare J, Brocklehurst P, Kurinczuk JJ (Eds.) on behalf of MBRRACE-UK. (2016) Saving Lives, Improving Mothers’ Care - Surveillance of maternal deaths in the UK 2012-14 and lessons learned to inform maternity care from the UK and Ireland Confidential Enquiries into Maternal Deaths and Morbidity 2009-14. Oxford: National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit, University of Oxford.

Office for National Statistics (2016). Birth Characteristics in England and Wales, 2015.

Redshaw, M & Henderson J (2015). Safely delivered: a national survey of women’s experience of maternity care 2014. Oxford: National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit, University of Oxford.

Rowe R & Garcia J. (2003). Social class, ethnicity and attendance for antenatal care: a systematic review. Journal of Public Health Medicine 25:113-119 .