Sexual and reproductive health

Maternity waiting homes: a review of experiences

World Health Organization, Department of Reproductive Health and Research

maternity waiting homes

Publication details

Number of pages: 40
Publication date: 1996
Languages: English
WHO reference number: WHO/RHT/MSM/96.21 - Web only


Maternity waiting homes are residential facilities, located near a qualified medical facility, where women defined as "high risk" can await their delivery and be transferred to a nearby medical facility shortly before delivery, or earlier should complications arise.

Many consider maternity waiting homes to be a key element of a strategy to "bridge the geographical gap" in obstetric care between rural areas, with poor access to equipped facilities, and urban areas where the services are available. As one component of a comprehensive package of essential obstetric services, maternity waiting homes may offer a low-cost way to bring women closer to needed obstetric care.