Maternity waiting homes (MWHs) in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) provide women with accommodation close to a health facility to enable timely access to skilled care at birth. We examined whether MWH use and availability compared with non-use/unavailability were associated with facility birth, birth with a skilled health professional, attendance at postnatal visit(s) and/or improved maternal and newborn health, in LMICs. We included (non-)randomized controlled, interrupted time series, controlled before–after, cohort and case–control studies published since 1990. Thirteen databases were searched with no language restrictions. Included studies (1991–2020) were assessed as either moderate (n = 9) or weak (n = 10) on individual quality using the Effective Public Health Practice Project tool. Quality was most frequently compromised by selection bias, confounding and blinding. Only moderate quality studies were analyzed; no studies examining maternal morbidity/mortality met this criterion. MWH users had less relative risk (RR) of perinatal mortality [RR 0.65, 95% confidence intervals (CIs): 0.48, 0.87] (3 studies) and low birthweight (RR 0.34, 95% CI: 0.20, 0.59) (2 studies) compared with non-users. There were no significant differences between MWH use and non-use for stillbirth (RR 0.75, 95% CI: 0.47, 1.18) (3 studies) or neonatal mortality (RR 0.51, 95% CI: 0.25, 1.02) (2 studies). Single study results demonstrated higher adjusted odds ratios (aOR) for facility birth (aOR 5.8, 95% CI: 2.6, 13.0) and attendance at all recommended postnatal visits within 6 weeks of birth (aOR 1.99, 95% CI: 1.30, 3.07) for MWH users vs. non-users. The presence vs. absence of an MWH was associated with a 19% increase in facility birth (aOR 1.19, 95% CI: 1.10, 1.29). The presence vs. absence of a hospital-affiliated MWH predicted a 47% lower perinatal mortality rate (P < 0.01), but at a healthcare centre-level a 13 higher perinatal mortality rate (P < 0.01). Currently, there remains a lack of robust evidence supporting MWH effectiveness. We outline a six-point strategy for strengthening the evidence base.