Advice for Women About Choosing a Maternity Caregiver and Place of Birth
Your main decisions about place of birth are: hospital, out-of-hospital birth center or home and, if you choose hospital, which one? If you are a typical healthy pregnant woman, you may receive especially appropriate maternity care by planning a birth center birth or a home birth. In U.S. hospitals, many healthy women routinely receive technology-intensive care that is more suited to women with established health problems (see Related Links, below, for results of the national Listening to Mothers II survey). Needless intervention offers no benefit, yet poses risk of harm. Among hospitals, some are less likely than others to liberally or routinely use labor induction, episiotomy, cesarean section and other interventions that are best reserved for situations of genuine need.
Your main decisions about maternity caregiver are: obstetrician, family physician or midwife and, after this choice, which individual or group of providers? If you are a typical healthy pregnant woman, you may receive especially appropriate maternity care from a midwife. Many physicians also give priority to women's informed choice and try to use interventions that pose risk only when clearly justified. Within each type of provider, some are less likely than others to use practices that are best reserved for women with established problems.
As early as possible in pregnancy:
For help with these steps, see in-depth resources on this website:
Choose wisely! Your nearest hospital, your gynecologist or the person who attended the birth of a friend or your own previous birth may not be the best choices for you.
Know your rights! The Rights of Childbearing Women is Childbirth Connection's adaptation of established human rights to pregnancy and childbirth.
Most recent page update: 6/2/2008
© 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.