Objective: To explore the experiences of pregnancy, childbirth, antenatal and postnatal care in women belonging to ethnic minorities and to identify any specific challenges that these women faced during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.

Design: This was a qualitative study using semistructured interviews of pregnant women or those who were 6 weeks postnatal from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. The study included 16 women in a predominantly urban Scottish health board area.

Results: The finding are presented in four themes: ‘communication’, ‘interactions with healthcare professionals’, ‘racism’ and ‘the pandemic effect’. Each theme had relevant subthemes. ‘Communication’ encompassed respect, accent bias, language barrier and cultural dissonance; ‘interactions with healthcare professionals’: continuity of care, empathy, informed decision making and dissonance with other healthcare systems; ‘racism’ was deemed to be institutional, interpersonal or internalised; and ‘the pandemic effect’ consisted of isolation, psychological impact and barriers to access of care.

Conclusions: This study provides insight into the specific challenges faced by ethnic minority women in pregnancy, which intersect with the unique problems posed by the ongoing SARS-CoV-2 pandemic to potentially widen existing ethnic disparities in maternal outcomes and experiences of maternity care.


This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to copy, redistribute, remix, transform and build upon this work for any purpose, provided the original work is properly cited, a link to the licence is given, and indication of whether changes were made. See: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

Cite as

John, J., Curry, G. & Cunningham Burley, S. 2021, 'Exploring ethnic minority women’s experiences of maternity care during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic: a qualitative study', BMJ Open, 11, article no: e050666. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2021-050666

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Last updated: 16 June 2022
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