Achieving a woman centred approach to maternity care?

Maternal Health Matters believes there is a need to articulate what being woman-centred in maternity care means and what constitutes woman-centred approaches to maternity care.

In essence, woman-centred maternity care can be summed up in two words – dignity and respect – we ….‘are human beings, and it is shared humanity that should be the basis of the relationship between us the health professional and the client.…. 1.  It is a maternity service culture in which women are able to decide the services they need, with informed decision and personal autonomy, so that the care fits their needs not the health professionals needs.

Woman centredness is a way of thinking which involves viewing, listening to and supporting a woman based on her strengths, abilities, aspirations, preferences and supporting her decisions for her pregnancy.  Such a mindset is essential for all maternity care professionals for the development of a ‘woman-centred maternity care plan’ and the provision of ‘woman-centred support’.

Woman-centred approaches require midwives/doctors to build a relationship with the woman in their care and  for clinicians/services to remain focused on the individual rather than the service. This means:

  • Being aware of where the woman is at now, especially in terms of her priorities, dreams and goals;
  • matching the services with the woman’s needs rather than the other way round;
  • the opposite of “one-size-fits-all”;
  • not fitting the woman into predetermined “packages”; and
  • looking at a woman’s capacities and strengths and always dealing with each woman as an individual 1 .



    1. T Lester, J Meagher, P Nadin, M Orr M (2013), Good Practice Guidelines for Woman-Centred Planning and Goal Setting for People with Psychosocial Disability, Practical Design Project Fund, Disability Care. Richmond PRA, Sydney.
    2. Person Centred Approaches to Care and Support