OBJECTIVE:This study examined the relationship between sociodemographic characteristics and maternal health use from a policy perspective. It aimed to provide an overview of maternal health in Heilongjiang's rural provinces and its implications on rural areas in countries with low and middle income gross domestic products. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS:This cross-sectional study used data from the Fifth Health Service Survey of Heilongjiang Province. Participants included 481 mothers who delivered a baby after August 15, 2008. Trained investigators collected data on their family and sociodemographic characteristics, antenatal care, delivery at specialised obstetric institutions (e.g. hospitals, clinics, other medical institutions), and postnatal care services. RESULTS:The number of women with more than five antenatal care visits and the delivery rate at specialised obstetric institutions were high. Approximately 50% of the participants had three or more postnatal care visits. Maternal healthcare use among women less than 20 years old and those with natural deliveries were higher. There were fewer antenatal care visits among women who had been pregnant once or twice before. CONCLUSIONS:Delivery rates at specialised obstetric institutions and the number of antenatal care visits were higher than the World Health Organization requirements, while the frequency of postnatal care visits were better than most countries. This study identified several demographic characteristics that influenced maternal health service use. Policymakers should consider these findings when developing maternal health policies that protect women's interests and expand free services. Additional resources should be given to increase the postnatal care capacity and quality of maternal healthcare.