Pregnancy and birth are physiologic processes, unique for each woman, that usually proceed normally. Most women have normal conception, fetal growth, labor, and birth and require minimal or no intervention in the process. Women and their families hold different views about childbearing based on their knowledge, experiences, belief systems, culture, and social and family backgrounds.
As representatives of professional societies whose members care for pregnant and laboring women, we agree that patient-centered and safe care of the mother and child enhance quality and is our primary priority. Optimal maternal health outcomes can best be achieved in an atmosphere of effective communication, shared decision-making, teamwork, and data-driven quality improvement initiatives.
“Patient-centered” means that health care providers, and the system in which they practice, accept that the values, culture, choices, and preferences of a woman and her family are relevant within the context of promoting optimal health outcomes. The overarching principles involved include treating all childbearing women with kindness, respect, dignity, and cultural sensitivity, throughout their maternity care experiences. Patient-centered care is enhanced when women are provided supportive resources such as education and skilled attendants. Specifically, patient-centered care requires a balance between maternal-child safety and well-being and the woman’s needs and desires.