In many low‐ and middle‐income countries women are encouraged to give birth in clinics and hospitals so that they can receive care from skilled birth attendants. A skilled birth attendant (SBA) is a health worker such as a midwife, doctor, or nurse who is trained to manage normal pregnancy and childbirth. (S)he is also trained to identify, manage, and refer any health problems that arise for mother and baby. The skills, attitudes and behaviour of SBAs, and the extent to which they work in an enabling working environment, impact on the quality of care provided. If any of these factors are missing, mothers and babies are likely to receive suboptimal care.