Carol Sakala, PhD, MSPH, Director of Programs, Childbirth Connection

Carol Sakala has worked on maternity care issues as an advocate, educator, researcher, author, and policy analyst for more than twenty-five years, with a continuous focus on meeting the needs of childbearing women and their families

In 1998-99, Carol worked with Childbirth Connection (then known as Maternity Center Association) to plan the organization's long-term national program to promote evidence-based maternity care. She joined the staff as Director of Programs in 2000, and has since developed and led a broad range of program activities to advance Childbirth Connection's mission of improving the quality of maternity care through research, education, advocacy and policy. Through its programs, Childbirth Connection serves as a trusted and valued resource to health professionals, childbearing women, policy makers, the media, and a broad range of organizations and agencies. Ongoing program initiatives address labor pain, labor support, cesarean section, and path breaking national Listening to Mothers surveys, as well as Childbirth Connection’s award-winning website (

Since the launch of Childbirth Connection’s Transforming Maternity Care initiative in 2007, program work has focused on improving maternity care quality and value by strengthening the effectiveness of the maternity care system. The initiative convened the relevant stakeholders for collaborative deliberation, planning and action, resulting in two foundational reports, "2020 Vision for a High-Quality, High-Value Maternity Care System" and "Blueprint for Action" (published in Women’s Health Issues, January 2010). A broad multi-stakeholder partnership is now working to implement the Blueprint.

Carol is Childbirth Connection’s liaison to the National Quality Forum and a member of its Perinatal Care Technical Advisory Panel. She is a member of the National Priorities Partnership’s Overuse Workgroup. She serves on the Steering Committee of Guidelines International Network’s Patient and Public Involvement Working Group and works with the Cochrane Collaboration’s Pregnancy and Childbirth Group to involve consumers in refereeing the group’s protocols and reviews. She has an adjunct faculty appointment in the Boston University School of Public Health.

Carol is lead author of the 2008 Milbank Report, Evidence-Based Maternity Care: What It Is and What It Can Achieve, She is a co-investigator of Childbirth Connection’s three national Listening to Mothers surveys and co-author of resulting reports and articles. She is a co-author of the widely consulted Cochrane Review, "Continuous Support for Women During Childbirth." Carol served as a guest editor of special issues on Childbirth Connection’s Transforming Maternity Care project (Women’s Health Issues, 2010), on "The Nature and Management of Labor Pain" (American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2002) and on medically unnecessary cesarean sections (Social Science & Medicine, 1993). From 2003 through 2007, her quarterly column on New Resources for Evidence-Based Practice appeared simultaneously in Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health and Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing. She has contributed an annual column, "Letter from North America," to the journal Birth since 2006.

Carol was a Pew Health Policy fellow at Boston University, where she received her doctorate in Health Policy through the University Professors Program in 1993.  She has Master's Degrees from the University of Utah and the University of Chicago.

© 2016 Childbirth Connection. All rights reserved.

Childbirth Connection is a national not-for-profit organization founded in 1918 as Maternity Center Association. Our mission is to improve the quality of maternity care through research, education, advocacy and policy. Childbirth Connection promotes safe, effective and satisfying evidence-based maternity care and is a voice for the needs and interests of childbearing families.
Most recent page update: 2/24/2012