My Toughest Case: Dr. Ann LaFranca
Almost all parents will say the experience of welcoming a child into the world is the best day of their lives. But successful, healthy births need skilled and compassionate medical care. For 25 years, Dr. Ann Lafranca of the Woman’s Hospital in Baton Rouge has been delivering babies and nurturing her patients as an OB/GYN.
Even though she has delivered countless babies throughout her career, Dr. Lafranca said the experience is still as extraordinary to witness as it was when she was a medical student with the LSU School of Medicine.
“It is a special event that can humble anyone,” Dr. Lafranca said. “Birth is the most profound miracle.”
As a part of her work, Dr. Lafranca forms relationships with women starting in their teenage years and continuing through adulthood.
She has even delivered the babies of six women she brought into the world earlier in her career. While there have been numerous rewarding and memorable patients over the years, one sticks out in her mind.
Dr. Lafranca’s patient was having a very slow placental abruption. A placental abruption occurs when the placenta separates from the uterus (the placenta feeds the child). It is a medical emergency for both the child and the mother because so much blood is lost.
Because the patient’s abruption was happening slowly, the signs and symptoms were not as obvious as they normally are.
But Dr. Lafranca felt something was not right, so she ordered an ultrasound to be done and saw the abruption. She performed an emergency c-section procedure. The baby was on life support for two weeks. But after two weeks of intensive care interventions, as well as more than a few prayers, the child woke up. Several years later, he remains a happy, healthy child and is now in grammar school.
While the majority of cases are not as dramatic as a placental abruption, Dr. Lafranca believes every woman in her office deserves her utmost care and respect. She said when they come in for appointments she views them as friends as much as she views them as patients. She has been invited by patients to special events like weddings and baptisms throughout her career.
These personal relationships have sustained Dr. Lafranca through 25 years of medicine. She said she feels no burnout because she enjoys dealing with her patients and their families so much.
“My goal is to provide a unique one-on-one setting with my patients,” Dr. Lafranca said. “When I close that door, it’s all about them.”
When Dr. Lafranca is not caring for her patients, she is active in her church and her community. She also adores spending time with her husband Robert and her adult children, Christopher and Caroline.
TIPS FROM DR. LAFRANCA
Take care of yourself during your pregnancy. Eat right, exercise, sleep, and nourish your body.
Remember that you should still be able to do a lot of the things you normally do while pregnant (work, exercise).
While an increase in knowledge and educational resources for pregnant women is overall a good thing, it is important to remember that pregnant women are human and make mistakes. If you slip up a bit in your diet, don’t beat yourself up over it.