To obtain mothers' views of their obstetric care, 210 mothers were interviewed postnatally in two hospitals. The findings relating to staff-patient communication are presented in this paper. Half of the mothers mentioned some failure of communication. There was a significant association between satisfaction with communication and overall satisfaction with care. Many mothers said that the purposes and nature of the procedures which they had during labour and delivery were not explained by the staff despite evidence of positive attitudes of the doctors towards giving such explanations. Although mothers who did not know why procedures were carried out generally wanted to know, they did not ask. Sixty-five per cent of the mothers said that the staff did not tell them anything about breast-feeding at any stage and 75 per cent said this about bottle-feeding. The need for health professionals to see communication with patients as an integral part of medical care is stressed.