Needs of Healthy Childbearing Women
What proportion of pregnant women are at low risk for problems?
Do low-risk pregnant women receive appropriate maternity care?
What do healthy childbearing women need?
What kind of maternity care is appropriate if I'm healthy and low-risk?
Why should I avoid routine interventions if I'm healthy and low-risk?
Many programs address the important needs of the minority of pregnant women who have medical problems, or are at a high risk for developing them. But, limited attention is given to ensure that the millions of healthy women who give birth every year receive the appropriate care. Childbirth Connection and this website address the needs of this group.
support these processes and avoid interfering with them, labor, birth, attachment, and breastfeeding reflect these processes, and the need for medical intervention is limited. It is important to find caregivers and places for giving birth that understand, respect, and work with these inborn processes.
Maternity care that is supportive and respectful, and that reflects the best available research about safe and effective care, has the best potential to lead to:
Listening to Mothers survey found high rates of intervention among women giving birth in U.S. hospitals. Examples of commonly used interventions include: inducing labor, using continuous electronic fetal monitoring, giving intravenous fluids, and cutting an episiotomy. Women themselves may also request interventions that are not medically needed, such as labor induction for convenient scheduling.
Although select women in specific situations may benefit from such maternity interventions, the best research finds that many interventions do not offer benefits to healthy women but do increase their risk for potentially harmful side effects.
If there is no clear, well-supported justification for use, it is wise to avoid interventions because they may:
The chain of unintended effects of maternity interventions has been called a "cascade of intervention." Many women feel that their bodies have failed them, and are unaware that things that have gone wrong were triggered by maternity practices themselves.
Moreover, the use of unnecessary interventions compromises the quality of maternity care and wastes resources of the employers, governments and families who pay for this care.
Most recent page update: 7/11/2011
© 2013 Childbirth Connection. All rights reserved.
Childbirth Connection is a national not-for-profit organization founded in 1918 as Maternity Center Association. Our mission is to improve the quality and value of maternity care through consumer engagement and health system transformation. Childbirth Connection promotes safe, effective and satisfying evidence-based maternity care and is a voice for the needs and interests of childbearing families.
News and Features
Listening to MothersSM III is the third national survey exploring women’s experiences in pregnancy and childbirth. Commissioned by Childbirth Connection, conducted by Harris Interactive, and funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the survey polled 2,400 women who gave birth in U.S. hospitals from 2011 to 2012. Results show that medically intensive experiences are typical, and evidence-based practices are underutilized. Childbearing women need better support and knowledge to navigate their maternity care.
Access the full report and supplementary materials
New Report: Maternity Care and Liability
Go to report and supporting materials
New Report: The Cost of Having a Baby in the United States
Go to report and supporting materials
New Cesarean Resources:
Go to Best Evidence Report
Go to web pages and booklet for women
For 95 years, Childbirth Connection has been dedicated to improving the quality and value of maternity care for all women and their families. Learn more about our rich history through our interactive timeline and give $95 for 95 in honor of our 95th birthday.
Childbirth Connection works to ensure that all women and babies get the best possible maternity care. We have the collective vision and we know how to get there, but we can't do it alone. Join the transformation today.
The Transforming Maternity Care website focuses on maternity care system improvements designed to engage diverse stakeholders in quality improvement efforts. The site offers full access to the landmark reports 2020 Vision and Blueprint for Action, features a Blog, and other resources such as an Action Center, a database of quality improvement projects, an interactive data center, and many more tools for advocates and stakeholders.