The use of surveys and direct feedback from women as a measurement of their maternity experience is seen as a means of stimulating quality improvement. Underpinning the overall rationale behind national maternity surveys is the acknowledgement that there is a need to document women's views of maternity services to inform policymakers with a view to enhancing the delivery of quality care to women. The evidence suggests that using maternity surveys to improve maternity care experience is central to UK health policy. It is also evident that qualitative input from women has the power to highlight mismatches of experience between women and professionals. Trusts are required to look to the future and invest in qualitative methodologies, which elicit rich and detailed information on women's experiences. The aim of this literature review is to critically analyse the use of maternity surveys and their validity in improving the care experienced by users of maternity services.