Carol Sakala, PhD Hear my name
Adjunct Assistant Professor
Boston University School of Public Health
Community Health Sciences

PhD, Boston University
MSPH, University of Utah
MA, University of Chicago
BA, University of Chicago

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Carol is an experienced maternity care advocate, educator, researcher, author, and policy analyst. With a continuous focus on meeting the needs and interests of childbearing women and families, she works to

• improve the quality, outcomes, and value of maternity care
• give voice to the needs and interests of childbearing women and families
• advance evidence-based maternity care, woman- and family-centered health policies, and maternity care shared decision making
• help women navigate the maternity care system.

Carol has served on deliberative and advisory bodies of the National Quality Forum, National Committee for Quality Assurance, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Guidelines International Network, and the US Breastfeeding Committee, among others.

Carol creates resources that are widely used to improve maternity care policy, practice, education, and research. She has served as:

• co-investigator of national Listening to Mothers surveys to illuminate experiences and views of childbearing women
• member of the PregnantMe team that is creating state-of-the-science maternity care decision aids
• lead author of the “Milbank Report,” Evidence-Based Maternity Care: What It Is and What It Can Achieve (2008)
• founding author (2003-2007) of the continuing “Current Resources for Evidence-Based Practice” column, which is published jointly in 2 professional journals
• author of the “Letter from North America” column in the journal Birth from 2006 to 2012
• member of founding team and contributor to the Consumer Panel of the Cochrane Collaboration Pregnancy and Childbirth Group
• co-author of the Cochrane review, “Continuous Support for Women During Childbirth”

Carol helps foster, develop, and/or apply high-quality clinical effectiveness tools – including systematic reviews, performance measures, clinical practice guidelines, and decision aids – to help address widely recognized patterns of maternity care overuse, underuse, and practice variation.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility

My full-time job is as Senior Director for Maternal Health at the National Partnership for Women & Families. At the National Partnership, we center those who have been most adversely affected by racism and other forms of discrimination and work to ensure that everyone can live with dignity, respect, and economic security. Within our Health Justice policy team, we incorporate and work to advance equity in all of our work. For me, this shows up in partnerships with both legacy organizations and newer equity-forward groups and intentional language. I incorporate equity into longer-term work to transform the maternity care system (for example, a forthcoming report on the importance of building equity into design elements of maternity care alternative payment models) and in shorter-term work to increase access to community-based and other high-performing maternal care care models that can mitigate racism and other harms. As a white cisgendered woman with lots of privilege, I feel I have a primary responsibility to adopt the understanding of challenges and solutions and follow the lead of those who are most affected by racism and bias. I am deeply inspired by the wisdom, leadership, organization, and success of the birth justice community.

Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Faculty can login to make corrections and additions.

iCite Analysis       Copy PMIDs To Clipboard

  1. Sakala C, Hernández-Cancio S, Wei R. Improving Our Maternity Care Now Through Community Birth Settings. J Perinat Educ. 2022 Oct 01; 31(4):184-187. PMID: 36277227; PMCID: PMC9584101; DOI: 10.1891/JPE-2022-0015;
  2. Sakala C, Hernández-Cancio S, Mackay E, Wei R. Improving Our Maternity Care Now Through Midwifery. J Perinat Educ. 2022 Oct 01; 31(4):181-183. PMID: 36277225; PMCID: PMC9584105; DOI: 10.1891/JPE-2022-0014;
  3. Levine A, Souter V, Sakala C. Are perinatal quality collaboratives collaborating enough? How including all birth settings can drive needed improvement in the United States maternity care system. Birth. 2022 03; 49(1):3-10. PMID: 34698401; PMCID: PMC9298427; DOI: 10.1111/birt.12600;
  4. Edmonds JK, Declercq E, Sakala C. Women's childbirth experiences: A content analysis from the Listening to Mothers in California survey. Birth. 2021 06; 48(2):221-229.View Related Profiles. PMID: 33538003
  5. Sakala C, Belanoff C, Declercq ER. Factors Associated with Unplanned Primary Cesarean Birth: Secondary Analysis of the Listening to Mothers in California Survey. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2020 Aug 14; 20(1):462.View Related Profiles. PMID: 32795305; PMCID: PMC7427718; DOI: 10.1186/s12884-020-03095-4;
  6. Declercq E, Sakala C, Belanoff C. Women's experience of agency and respect in maternity care by type of insurance in California. PLoS One. 2020; 15(7):e0235262.View Related Profiles. PMID: 32716927; PMCID: PMC7384608; DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0235262;
  7. Sakala C. Toward a Workforce That Reliably Delivers High-Value Maternity Care in the United States. J Midwifery Womens Health. 2020 09; 65(5):605-608. PMID: 32232959
  8. Declercq ER, Belanoff C, Sakala C. Intrapartum Care and Experiences of Women with Midwives Versus Obstetricians in the Listening to Mothers in California Survey. J Midwifery Womens Health. 2020 Jan; 65(1):45-55.View Related Profiles. PMID: 31448884; PMCID: PMC7028014; DOI: 10.1111/jmwh.13027;
  9. Nijagal MA, Wissig S, Stowell C, Olson E, Amer-Wahlin I, Bonsel G, Brooks A, Coleman M, Devi Karalasingam S, Duffy JMN, Flanagan T, Gebhardt S, Greene ME, Groenendaal F, R Jeganathan JR, Kowaliw T, Lamain-de-Ruiter M, Main E, Owens M, Petersen R, Reiss I, Sakala C, Speciale AM, Thompson R, Okunade O, Franx A. Standardized outcome measures for pregnancy and childbirth, an ICHOM proposal. BMC Health Serv Res. 2018 Dec 11; 18(1):953. PMID: 30537958; PMCID: PMC6290550; DOI: 10.1186/s12913-018-3732-3;
  10. Kennedy HP, Kozhimannil KB, Sakala C. Using the Blueprint for Advancing High-Value Maternity Care for transformative change. Birth. 2018 12; 45(4):331-335. PMID: 30379349
Showing 10 of 78 results. Show More

This graph shows the total number of publications by year, by first, middle/unknown, or last author.

Bar chart showing 78 publications over 30 distinct years, with a maximum of 7 publications in 2010


2021 Coalition for Excellence in MCH Epidemiology: Effective Practice at the National Level Award (with Maureen P. Corry)
2005 National Women's Health Network: Honored as Women's Health Activist
1986-1988 Boston University: Pew Health Policy Fellowship
1986-1987 Frieda Wolff National Health Service Fund Doctoral Research Fellowship
1985 University of Utah: Phi Kappa Phi National Honorary Society
In addition to these self-described keywords below, a list of MeSH based concepts is available here.

Women's Health
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