Background In 2015, 27.5% of births in England and Wales were to mothers born outside of the UK. Compared to their White British peers, minority ethnic and migrant women are at a significantly higher risk of maternal and perinatal mortality, along with lower maternity care satisfaction. Existing literature highlights the importance of midwife–woman relationships in care satisfaction and pregnancy outcomes; however, little research has explored midwife–woman relationships for migrant and minority ethnic women in the UK. Methods A focused ethnography was conducted in South Wales, UK, including semi‐structured interviews with 9 migrant Pakistani participants and 11 practising midwives, fieldwork in the local migrant Pakistani community and local maternity services, observations of antenatal appointments, and reviews of relevant media. Thematic data analysis was undertaken concurrently with data collection. Findings The midwife–woman relationship was important for participants' experiences of care. Numerous social and ecological factors influenced this relationship, including family relationships, culture and religion, differing health‐care systems, authoritative knowledge and communication of information. Marked differences were seen between midwives and women in the perceived importance of these factors. Conclusions Findings provide new theoretical insights into the complex factors contributing to the health‐care expectations of pregnant migrant Pakistani women in the UK. These findings may be used to create meaningful dialogue between women and midwives, encourage women's involvement in decisions about their health care and facilitate future midwifery education and research. Conclusions are relevant to a broad international audience, as achieving better outcomes for migrant and ethnic minority communities is of global concern.