About the Survey

The first national Listening to Mothers survey focuses the discussion of maternity care in the U.S. on the people who care about it most: mothers themselves. The survey examined many aspects of the maternity experience that have never been documented at the national level. It provides a far more complete understanding of U.S. women's maternity experiences than has been previously available.

Women who participated in the first Listening to Mothers survey

Nearly 1,600 women from across the United States participated in the survey during May and June, 2002. All of the women had given birth within 24 months of completing the survey, and the survey focused on their experiences with their most recent birth, including pregnancy, labor and birth, and the weeks and months afterward. The survey was designed to reflect the national profile of childbearing women, with several limitations (we did not, for example, include women who had given birth to twins or women whose babies were not living at the time of the survey). An appendix in the survey report describes the survey methodology and these limitations.

Type of information included in the survey

The first Listening to Mothers survey included some questions relating to pre-pregnancy and the prenatal period, and gave greatest emphasis to many previously unexamined issues at the time of labor and birth and in the weeks and months after birth.

Many survey questions had never been asked before at the national level in the U.S., including:
  • women's attitudes, feelings, and knowledge about various aspects of the maternity experience
  • women's experiences with many labor and birth practices (e.g., eating, drinking, and walking in labor; use of drug-free methods of labor pain relief; birth position)
  • women's maternity preparation and the personnel who cared for them (e.g., attendance at childbirth education classes, specialty of physician caregivers, and providers of supportive care in labor)
  • women's maternity outcomes (such as physical health problems and depression after the birth).

Groups involved with the survey

The Listening to Mothers survey is a project of Childbirth Connection. The survey was developed with the support of the Listening to Mothers National Advisory Council. Most members of this multi-disciplinary group represented leading national organizations involved with maternity care. The survey was conducted by Harris Interactive�, the market research firm. Teams from Childbirth Connection and Harris Interactive collaborated to develop the survey questionnaire, analyze the data, and write the report. The survey is an essential tool for improving the maternity experience, and Childbirth Connection developed recommendations in response to key survey findings.

Survey objectives

The first Listening to Mothers survey was designed to:
  • highlight the importance of using input from women to inform public debates about maternity care issues and shape policy
  • assess current maternity services from a consumer perspective
  • obtain information that can be used to develop responsive consumer education programs
  • improve clinical maternity services
  • enhance the education of maternity caregivers
  • clarify the extent of use of selected maternity practices, and promote access to evidence-based maternity care
  • identify specific areas requiring more focused research.
Most recent page update: 9/11/2012

© 2016 National Partnership for Women & Families. All rights reserved.

Founded in 1918, Childbirth Connection has joined forces with and become a core program of the National Partnership for Women & Families. Together, these two women's health powerhouses are transforming maternity care in the United States.
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