Background: A maternity waiting home (MWH) is a facility within easy reach of a hospital or health centre which provides emergency obstetric care (EmOC). Women may stay in the MWH at the end of their pregnancy and await labour. Once labour starts, women move to the health facility so that labour and giving birth can be assisted by a skilled birth attendant. The aim of the MWH is to improve accessibility to skilled care and thus reduce morbidity and mortality for mother and neonate should complications arise. Some studies report a favourable effect on the outcomes for women and their newborns. Others show that utilisation is low and barriers exist. However, these data are limited in their reliability.
Objectives: To assess the effects of a maternity waiting facility on maternal and perinatal health.
Search methods: We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register (27 January 2012), CENTRAL (The Cochrane Library 2011, Issue 4 of 4), MEDLINE (1966 to January 2012), EMBASE (1980 to January 2012), CINAHL (1982 to January 2012), African Journals Online (AJOL) (January 2012), POPLINE (January 2012), Dissertation Abstracts (January 2012) and reference lists of retrieved papers.
Selection criteria: Randomised controlled trials including quasi-randomised and cluster-randomised trials that compared perinatal and maternal outcome in women using a MWH and women who did not.
Data collection and analysis: There were no randomised controlled trials or cluster-randomised trials identified from the search.
Main results: There were no randomised controlled trials or cluster-randomised trials identified from the search.
Authors' conclusions: There is insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of maternity waiting facilities for improving maternal and neonatal outcomes.