Culture & Language

Birthing people who are of Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic backgrounds, are more at risk of suffering pre-term birth, stillbirth, neonatal death or a baby born with low birth weight than their white counterparts. The four main reasons have been identified for this difference. They are as follows -

  • Inferior experiences of clinical care impacting trust in perinatal services
  • Services not meeting language and cultural needs
  • Higher prevalence of pregnancy risk factors and medical conditions
  • Poor access to antenatal education

In Sussex we have an equity plan to address these issues and improve outcomes.

Place based plans

To ensure that safe and personalised care is provided, it’s important that a pregnant person and their care provider understand each other. This is particularly important when that person is going into labour or suffering from pregnancy-related complications.

If English is not your first language

Translation and information in different formats is available

Interpreters can be arranged for appointments. When you book an appointment, tell the receptionist which language you speak, and they will book an interpreter who will either attend in person or via phone. A translation card is available to show the receptionist. It is important that you are understood so you receive the information you need and ask any questions you have.

Information can also be given in different formats, including:

  • braille
  • overseas languages
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  • audio format
  • electronic formats

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Book before 10 weeks

It's important that you book an appointment with a midwife as soon as you find out you are pregnant.

Your first midwife appointment (also called the booking appointment) should happen before you’re 10 weeks pregnant. This is because you’ll be offered some tests that should be done before 10 weeks.

There is no need to see a GP first as you can refer yourself to maternity services via our self-referral page. But if you’d rather see a GP you can, and they will refer you.

For more information on why to book your maternity care early, read our blog on booking before 10 weeks.




Supporting long-term maternal health and wellbeing

As many as one in five birthing people suffer with their mental health during pregnancy or in the first year after birth.

Being pregnant is a big life event, and it is natural to feel a lot of different emotions. But if you’re feeling sad and it’s starting to affect your life, there are things you can try that may help. Speak to your midwife, GP or health visitor, who will be able to talk through your options.

Useful links
Seeking prompt help is important. Further support and information is available. If in crisis, contact one of the numbers below:

  • Sussex Mental Health line – 0800 0309 500 (24 hrs)
  • Samaritans – 116 123 (24 hrs a day)
  • Mind – 0300 123 3393 (9am – 6pm Mon-Fri)
  • NHS Choices – 111 (24 hrs a day)

Talking therapies offer support for anxiety and depression.

There is also a specialist perinatal mental health service.

visit these websites for details of how you can get further support:

Maternal Mental Health Alliance

More Information

Action on Postpartum Psychosis

More Information

Association for Post-Natal Illness

More Information

Maternal OCD

More Information

Miscarriage Association

More Information


More Information

Other useful links

Keeping healthy during pregnancy if you smoke

Read our blog on Smoking

Keeping healthy during pregnancy

Read our blog about staying healthy

How we are helping people in Sussex have safe pregnancies and healthy babies

What we are doing

  • Implementing and embedding midwifery Continuity of Carer
  • Ensuring all new services, projects and communications are co-produced with service users who represent the local population
  • Offering personalised care tailored to individual needs. See our Personalised Care and Support Plan
  • Pilot co-location of maternity, health visiting and mental health services within community hubs in deprived areas
  • Supporting long-term maternal health and wellbeing by developing perinatal mental health services and  peer support services
  • Ensuring we discuss vitamins, supplements and nutrition in pregnancy with all women. Women low in vitamin D may be more vulnerable to coronavirus, so women with darker skin or those who always cover their skin when outside may be at particular risk of vitamin D insufficiency and should consider taking a daily supplement of vitamin D all year.


What you can do

  • It’s important you make an appointment with your midwife as soon as you find out you’re pregnant. You can self-refer to maternity services; there is no need to see your GP first. Our blog about booking with a midwife before 10 weeks has lots of helpful information
  • Discuss with your midwife anything you are worried about, anxiety is common in pregnancy your midwife is there to help
  • Ask for a translator if English isn’t your first language and you are struggling to understand


Sussex Equity & Equality Programme

We are changing our services to improve Perinatal Equity and Equality in Sussex

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