Childbirth Connection's Historic Timeline

Since 1918, Childbirth Connection (known as Maternity Center Association until 2005) has worked as a national not-for-profit organization to improve the quality of maternity care through research, education, advocacy, and demonstration of maternity innovations.

During this time, our organization has fostered the establishment of leading organizations in the field, carried out national media outreach, and developed a broad range of clinical, educational and advocacy programs; dozens of consumer and professional publications; many conferences and symposia; and numerous surveys and program evaluations. Selected highlights of the accomplishments of Maternity Center Association and now Childbirth Connection appear below.


Administered pilot project to provide comprehensive maternity care to underserved women through Maternity Centers in New York City neighborhoods; high-quality maternity care and education led to significant reductions in maternal and infant death.

Developed first classes for expectant parents as part of comprehensive maternity services.


Distributed Maternity Center Handbook to the public and to voluntary health agencies throughout the U.S., describing in detail the model of maternity care demonstrated by the Association.


Began to offer Maternity Institutes to educate public health nurses across the country; programs at dozens of local sites reached about one-half of the estimated 20,000 public health nurses in the country, as well as many nursing students and public health nurses in Canada.


Established first U.S. school of nurse-midwifery in New York City.

Launched nationwide educational campaign on Mother's Day to inform the public about the vital importance of maternity care.  


Revised charter to extend scope of operations to the United States, with the understanding that work in other nations might be appropriate to accomplish the aims of the organization.


Developed and began to offer a series of well-received classes for fathers; subsequently printed and distributed the syllabus to support the development of classes for fathers throughout the country.


Sponsored major exhibit of sculptures of the childbirth process by Robert Latou Dickinson and Abram Belskie at the 1939-40 World's Fair. These images illustrated the Birth Atlas (first edition 1940), which continues to be used by health educators throughout the world.


Published anatomical teaching charts showing changes in mothers' bodies throughout the childbearing process and fetal development; this series continues to be used for childbirth education throughout the world as the popular Growing Uterus chart set and guide, and these images of maternal and fetal development are available on this website.


Organized nationwide forum on prepared childbirth by arranging for Dr. Grantly Dick-Read, author of Childbirth Without Fear, to visit the United States and travel throughout the country addressing public and professional audiences.


Supported evaluation of natural childbirth at Yale University under the direction of Dr. Herbert Thoms, with favorable results about the process and outcome of labor and the satisfaction of over 1,000 women reported in 1950.


Collaborated with the American Institute of Public Opinion to carry out and report a national survey on the cost of maternity care.


Supported establishment of American College of Nurse-Midwifery (which subsequently became American College of Nurse-Midwives).

Produced first nationwide television series on childbearing in association with NBC-TV's Home Show.


First Nurse-Midwifery Program was established at a major municipal hospital, when Maternity Center Association moved its nurse-midwifery school to Kings County Hospital, in a joint program with the hospital and the State University of New York.  


Produced "From Generation to Generation," the first major film on family life and sex education, which was nominated for an Academy Award.


Developed refresher program to enable nurse-midwives to return to clinical practice, within a national effort to support hospitals and universities in establishing or expanding nurse-midwifery programs.


Established The Childbearing Center, a project in New York City to demonstrate out-of-hospital, family-centered maternity care, which was approved by the New York State Department of Health and operated from September 1975 through June 1996.  


Developed innovative classes to prepare children for the birth of a sibling.  


Established the National Association of Childbearing Centers, a professional association for out-of-hospital birth centers.


Established the Commission for the Accreditation of Freestanding Birth Centers to ensure high standards of operation for out-of-hospital birth centers across the United States.


Opened the Childbearing Center of Morris Heights, a neighborhood-based birth center in the South Bronx serving low-income families.  


Results of the 84-site National Birth Center Study of outcomes of care in out-of-hospital birth centers were published in the New England Journal of Medicine, with funding secured by Maternity Center Association; the study concluded that care in birth centers was safe, satisfying, and cost effective.


Held seminar for health professionals on mainstreaming the out-of-hospital birth center in commemoration of our 75th birthday. 


Published seminar proceedings on mainstreaming the out-of-hospital birth center, Prelude to Action II: Reforming Maternity Care.


Obtained grant from Office of Quality Improvement, New York State Department of Health, to provide consultation services to institutions interested in implementing and evaluating prenatal education and strengthening postpartum discharge programs.

Offered national postpartum doula training program for managed care and other health organizations.  


Held national conference on "Models of Collaborative Practice: Preparing for Maternity Care in the 21st Century" in Washington, D.C., to address challenges, opportunities, and barriers to implementing collaborative practice, and supported subsequent publication of papers in Women's Health Issues.

Honored Ruth Watson Lubic and Alice Stone Ilchman with the Carola Warburg Rothschild award for outstanding contributions to the health and well-being of women and families.


Established and convened "Institute for Family-Centered Maternity Care," a national advisory council.

Held "Having a Baby in America," an educational forum celebrating Maternity Center Association's 80th birthday.

Honored Byllye Y. Avery and Jo Ivey Bouffard with the Carola Warburg Rothschild award for outstanding contributions to the health and well-being of women and families.


Established long-term national  Maternity Wise program to promote evidence-based maternity care.


Carried out survey of leaders within U.S. professional organizations involved with maternal and child health to assess their understanding of and commitment to evidence-based maternity care.  


Launched Maternity Wise website devoted to evidence-based maternity care, with resources for women, health professionals and the media.

Sponsored multi-disciplinary conference, "The Nature and Management of Labor Pain: An Evidence-based Symposium," jointly with the New York Academy of Medicine and with the help of a multi-disciplinary national steering committee.  

Honored Iain Chalmers, Murray Enkin and Marc J.N.C. Keirse with the Carola Warburg Rothschild award for outstanding contributions to the health and well-being of women and families.

Received Lamaze International's Research Award, in recognition of the organization's national program to promote evidence-based maternity care and work carried out to clarify and communicate best evidence about labor pain and labor pain relief.


Updated mission statement to reflect the evolution of the organization's programs and the broader environment.

Sponsored publication of systematic and narrative reviews clarifying the best evidence about labor pain and labor pain relief methods in a special issue of American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and carried out national media campaign to publicize results. (Get PDF of The Nature and Management of Labor Pain executive summary.)

Carried out and reported Listening to Mothers, the first national U.S. survey of women's childbearing experiences, with the assistance of Harris Interactive� and a National Advisory Council; released survey results at a forum in New York City and began national media outreach campaign to publicize results.

Honored Penny Simkin with the Carola Warburg Rothschild award for outstanding contributions to the health and well-being of women and families.

Made online version of A Guide to Effective Care in Pregnancy and Childbirth available, in full at no charge on our website.

Held forum for health care professionals on "Trauma, Loss and Communal Grieving: The Experiences of Pregnant Women, New Mothers and Maternity Care Providers after 9/11" (Get PDF of Trauma, Loss and Communal Grieving proceedings.)


Established National Media Advisory Council comprised of leading journalists to help guide media outreach activities.

Inaugurated column on "Resources for Evidence-Based Practice" as a quarterly feature of both Journal of Midwifery and Women's Health and Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing (past and continuing evidence columns are available on this website).

Received the first John Kennell and Marshall Klaus Doula Spirit Award for Research from Doulas of North America (DONA), in recognition of Listening to Mothers: The First National U.S. Survey of Women's Childbearing Experiences.

Honored the collaboration of John Kennell and Marshall Klaus with the Carola Warburg Rothschild award for outstanding contributions to the health and well-being of women and families at reception in New York City to commemorate our 85th Birthday.

Honored the work of Kitty Ernst with the Carola Warburg Rothschild award for outstanding contributions to the health and well-being of women and families, at 85th Birthday Gala in New York City.


Carried out systematic review to identify the full range of harms that differ between vaginal and cesarean birth; presented results in a consumer booklet, What Every Pregnant Woman Needs to Know About Cesarean Section, which was endorsed by over 25 national non-profit organizations; and carried out national media outreach to publicize results.

Website recognized by Medicine on the Net's Web Excellence Award program for outstanding content by a voluntary healthcare organization.


Carried out continuing public, professional and media outreach to provide accurate information to women and the general public about cesarean issues, including participation in New York City Public Advocate's press conference calling attention to high cesarean rates in local hospitals.

Changed organization's name to Childbirth Connection to better reflect our contemporary focus.

Honored Doris Haire with the Carola Warburg Rothschild award for outstanding contributions to the health and well-being of women and families.


Joined National Quality Forum to address maternity care in national health care quality improvement initiatives.

Launched the Childbirth Connection website, a redesign and expansion of the Maternity Center Association's highly regarded website.

Convened Listening to Mothers National Advisory Council (2005) and carried out the second national Listening to Mothers survey, of mothers who gave birth in 2005, with the assistance of Harris Interactive and in partnership with Lamaze International; published survey results and conducted national media outreach campaign to publicize results.


Held Capitol Hill briefing, Health Care for Pregnancy and Childbirth: Closing Gaps Between Best Evidence and Common Practice, sponsored by the Congressional Women's Caucus, to raise awareness of the need to improve maternity care quality, access and value.


Joined forces with and became a core program of the National Partnership for Women & Families.


Most recent page update: 1/22/2014

© 2016 National Partnership for Women & Families. All rights reserved.

Founded in 1918, Childbirth Connection has joined forces with and become a core program of the National Partnership for Women & Families. Together, these two women's health powerhouses are transforming maternity care in the United States.
News and Features
Featured Resource

Check out our resource, "Hormonal Physiology of Childbearing: Evidence and Implications for Women, Babies, and Maternity Care"
Read more

Special Announcement

Childbirth Connection has joined forces with and become a core program of the National Partnership for Women & Families.
Read more

Our Vision

We want all women and babies receive the best possible maternity care.
Play video

Get Involved

Read our 2020 Vision, Blueprint for Action, blog and more
Sign up for email updates
Find us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
Support us