We recently celebrated the arrival of a new addition in our family and it was a delivery made in Heaven. Our relative’s membranes ruptured, contractions started and she delivered a healthy baby 45 minutes after her arrival to the hospital. The doctor came 10 minutes before the baby was born and all she had to do was basically “catch the baby.”

Sadly, everyone is not as fortunate. Each month I review medical malpractice cases and shake my head in frustration because many of them could have been avoided if only someone had listened to the patient or paid attention in the labor room. Last week, the listeners of a popular morning radio show listened in horror to Angela Burgin Logan’s interview about her missed diagnosis of pre-eclampsia that almost killed both her and her unborn daughter. Fortunately she lived to tell the story which is now a movie entitled Breathe. Although Angela and her daughter are well, other women have not been as lucky.

Pregnant women need to start thinking in terms of “outcomes” regarding their pregnancy. As the healthcare “industry” moves deeper into the 21st century, healthcare providers and hospitals will be measured and paid according to the outcomes of the patient. You will hear terms such as “pay for performance” and “performance measures” used more frequently. A “normal” pregnancy does not necessarily mean a “normal” outcome at birth (aka healthy baby) if someone misses a sign or a signal of a potential life-threatening problem. Why does this happen? For reasons too numerous to count but the main culprit is lack of communication. A lab report with important results was not reviewed or signed. High-volume practices leave little time to provide quality care for patients and then of course, there is arrogance.

Two of the most empowering things a pregnant woman can do in order to improve her chances of having a healthy baby is to (1) select the right healthcare provider and (2) have strategies at hand in the event that she encounters administrative or clinical complications. In Part 2 of this discussion, I will provide some of those strategies in the event that you have a healthcare provider who will not listen to your concerns. Until then, remember, a healthy pregnancy doesn’t just happen. It takes a smart mother who knows what to do.