For years I struggled to define what I was doing as a physician regarding patient care. I finally figured it out. I was attempting to improve birth outcomes. An outcome is another way of saying end result and for most pregnant women the desired result is a healthy baby. There is an erroneous assumption that all pregnant women will have healthy babies. Unfortunately, this is not always true. Out of the 4 million babies born each year, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, 1.3 million babies require special care after they’re born. About 6 percent of newborns or 200,000 babies per year require life-saving intensive care that could have occurred before, during or after their births. What happens at the time of birth potentially depends on how much homework (aka due diligence) was done prior to going to the first prenatal appointment.

My goal for 2012 is to encourage women to become significantly more proactive regarding their healthcare, especially if they’re pregnant. Background checks of hospitals, clinics and healthcare providers should be done on a routine basis prior to making an initial appointment. Obstetrics is a specialty of the unexpected. A “normal” pregnancy could become “abnormal”   in a matter of minutes in the labor room. Unwanted conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and premature labor rear their ugly heads. Can your healthcare provider handle these problems appropriately?

The untimely death of Hip Hop artist “Heavy D” aka Dwight Arrington Myers is a teachable moment in prevention. An autopsy confirmed that Myers had died from a blood clot to his lungs, also known as a pulmonary embolism. Myers had a previous history of obesity and heart problems. He was returning from England which is an extremely long flight. Sitting for greater than 2 hours increases the risk of developing blood clots in the legs. I wonder if anyone had advised him to stand every 2 hours for 15 minutes as a precaution. This advice also applies to pregnant women.

The story of Flight 1549, aka the “Miracle on the Hudson” is inspiring. The pilot, Captain Skully Sullenberger miraculously landed a plane in the Hudson River after the plane’s engine had been compromised by low-flying birds. His skill and proficiency saved 150 lives. Can your healthcare provider and hospital handle the unexpected? I certainly hope so.

The Smart Mother’s Guide to a Better Pregnancy was written to help pregnant women improve birth outcomes. There will also be future webinars to assist as well.

Remember, a healthy pregnancy doesn’t just happen. It takes a smart mother who knows what to do.