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Case reviews of maternal death have revealed a concerning pattern of delay in recognition of hemorrhage, hypertensive crisis, sepsis, venous thromboembolism, and heart failure. Early-warning systems have been proposed to facilitate timely recognition, diagnosis, and treatment for women developing critical illness. A multidisciplinary working group convened by the National Partnership for Maternal Safety used a consensus-based approach to define The Maternal Early Warning Criteria, a list of abnormal parameters that indicate the need for urgent bedside evaluation by a clinician with the capacity to escalate care as necessary in order to pursue diagnostic and therapeutic interventions. This commentary reviews the evidence supporting the use of early-warning systems and describes The Maternal Early Warning Criteria, along with considerations for local implementation.