What Does Good Maternity Care Mean to You?

Good care looks different for every person. In this chapter, you’ll meet doctors, midwives, doulas, and parents who discuss different models of care that are safe, respectful, and person-centered.

  • What respectful, high-quality, equitable care looks like.
  • You have options.
  • The importance of trust and relationship.
  • What to look for in a care provider or team.
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Terms in this Chapter
Birth center

a home-like facility that is not a hospital where healthy people with low-risk pregnancies can give birth in the midwifery model of care


to open. Typically the birthing person’s cervix will begin dilating in the last weeks of pregnancy; in labor the cervix will dilate to about 10 cm to let the baby out.


a trained professional who provides physical, emotional and informational support before, during and shortly after birth (birth doula) or in the postpartum period (postpartum doula). Doulas with full-spectrum training may also support people during and after pregnancy loss or abortion. Doulas do not have medical training, are not medically licensed, and do not provide medical advice.

Group care model

prenatal care in a group setting with other people who are at a similar stage of pregnancy. In this model, you can learn from and build relationships with other expecting parents who are going through a similar experience.

Integrated model

a model of care where midwives and doctors work closely together for care of patients with both low- and high-risk pregnancies.


making milk in the breasts, and/or feeding a baby from the chest.


a licensed healthcare professional trained to provide reproductive and primary care including care during pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period. Midwives specialize in low-risk pregnancies and well-person care, and may collaborate with physicians and other healthcare providers in the care of people who need advanced medical care or surgery.


illness, injury, or poor health


an acronym that stands for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, a location in some hospitals where babies who need special medical attention can receive it


OB is short for obstetrician and GYN is short for gynecologist. An obstetrician is a healthcare professional who delivers babies and provides pregnancy-related care, while a gynecologist is a healthcare professional who specializes in vaginal care and reproductive health


before birth / during pregnancy

Care coordinator

a trained healthcare professional who helps arrange clinical care and connect birthing people with educational and support resources


after childbirth

Shared decision making

when a provider and a patient work together to make a health care decision that is best for the patient. The optimal decision takes into account evidence-based information about options, the provider’s knowledge and experience, and the patient’s values and preferences.

Birthing person

the person who will give birth to the baby. See also birthing person; pregnant person

Cesarean birth

a surgical procedure (used instead of vaginal birth) to deliver a baby by cutting into the abdomen and the uterus. Also known as a C-section

Culturally aligned care

care that honors and integrates a person’s cultural identity and preferences, provided by people who share the culture or are knowledgeable and respectful of the culture


happening during pregnancy or related to pregnancy

Informed consent

a process where the birthing individual gives permission or chooses a decision based on the principle that they have all the information they need from their healthcare provider prior to making that decision. Informed consent involves a discussion around the benefits, risks and alternatives of procedures or medical actions you are asked to agree to.

Informed refusal

a process where the birthing individual refuses treatment or services based on the principle that they have all the information they need from their healthcare provider prior to making that decision


around the time of birth


a trained healthcare professional who diagnoses patients and provides treatment. Includes doctors, midwives, nurse practitioners, and physicians assistants.


speaking up for yourself, your needs and your desires so you can make informed decisions and have your decisions respected

Support people

anyone in the pregnant person’s life whose purpose is to physically or emotionally support them