Safe care minimizes the risk of error and harm. Care that supports the physiology of childbirth, and minimizes use of interventions with established risks, will often be the safest care.
Effective means sound evidence is available to demonstrate that care achieves expected benefits. Overuse (providing unneeded care) and underuse (not providing beneficial care) of interventions are minimized.
Timely means that care is delivered when needed. Wait times compromising safety and efficiency are avoided. Timely also means that the timing of the start and course of labor and birth is determined by the physiology of birth when possible. Decisions are made to optimize maternal and newborn health rather than for convenience. Timely also means that information to support women's decision-making is available well before the onset of labor, and, as relevant, again during labor.
Equitable means that women and families of all racial, ethnic, and economic groups have access to the same high quality care, and that any variation in maternity care practice is based solely on the health needs and values of the woman and her baby. Currently, black non-Hispanic mothers experience much higher rates of preterm birth, low birth weight, and fetal, perinatal, and maternal death than white non-Hispanic and Hispanic women. Equitable also means that the maternity care system addresses linguistic, cultural, and geographic barriers.
Woman-and family-centered means that care is based on the values, culture, and preferences of the woman and her family, while promoting optimal health outcomes.
Efficient means delivering the best possible health outcomes and benefits with the most appropriate use of resources and technology. Efficient maternity care avoids the waste of overuse, underuse and errors.