Things don’t always go as planned during labor and delivery. But if the safety of either the mother or unborn child is in jeopardy, the medical staff should be ready to take necessary measures to ensure their health.
Sadly, birth injuries are more common than you may think. These injuries don’t just affect babies; labor and delivery can also be a dangerous process for mothers, especially when medical staff fails to take the steps they should.
Below, we discuss some common maternal injuries sustained during childbirth and what to do if you believe your injury should have been prevented.
Many women experience some degree of vaginal tearing during childbirth as the baby stretches the area. Most tears occur in the perineum, the area between the vaginal opening and the anus, and many are small and skin-deep. These are known as first-degree tears and heal naturally.
Second-degree tears are those that affect the perineum muscles and usually require stitches. An episiotomy procedure may be done by a doctor or midwife in order to make more space to deliver the baby and also requires stitches.
For some women, vaginal tearing is more severe. A third-degree tear involves the muscles that control the anus (the anal sphincter), while a fourth-degree tear is one that extends beyond the lining of the anus or rectum. About 3% of women who have a vaginal birth experience a third- or fourth-degree tear. Typically, these forms of tearing require repair via surgery.
Injuries to the Pelvic Floor
During vaginal birth, the levator muscles in the pelvic floor are stretched 1.5 to 3 times their normal length in order to allow the baby to pass through. In many women, the muscles return to their normal, however, 10-30% of women experience overstretched pelvic muscles which are sometimes torn off the bone. These muscles help hold the uterus, bladder, and bowel in place and can be permanently changed by such trauma.
Pelvic organ prolapse is another injury that may be sustained by birthing mothers. If the pelvic muscles are damaged or weakened, the organs inside the pelvic can drop down and cause future bladder or bowel problems. Injuries to the pelvic floor are more common in older women and women who give birth vaginally after having a caesarean section (VBAC).
Uterine ruptures are an emergency complication that occurs during pregnancy, labor, or delivery. Oftentimes, they are the result of a VBAC delivery when scars from the previous C-section or another uterine/abdominal surgery tear during the process; scar tissue is much more prone to tearing.
Even if there are no tears in the uterus, there are certain circumstances where the uterus can rupture with some or all of its layers. When this occurs, the fetus’ oxygen supply can be compromised, which increases the risk of seizures, cerebral palsy, developmental delays, and other brain injuries. This condition often leads to severe bleeding from the mother and jeopardizes her overall condition.
Not all birth injuries are physical. A traumatic or stressful childbirth experience or an injury to one’s newborn baby can lead to emotional distress and psychological. This can prevent a mother from bonding with her baby; the mother may also struggle with depression or anxiety for a period of time after birth. You can read one of our recent blogs to learn more about maternal PTSD after traumatic births and infant birth injuries.
Helping You and Your Family Heal
While many of these injuries will heal with proper treatment, some can cause life-threatening consequences or long-lasting pain and discomfort. If you sustained an injury as an expecting or birthing mother, or if your baby was injured as a result of a negligent medical provider, our firm is here to provide you with the compassionate and dedicated legal advocacy that you deserve.
Medical malpractice cases are inherently complex and require extensive investigative techniques, attention to detail, and an unrelenting will to fight. Our head attorney, Patrick Angel, is a former marine who understands going to battle. We are here to stand in your corner during these difficult times and help you and your family to obtain the compensation you need to heal.
Contact Angel Law at (503) 862-8666 to schedule a free consultation with our legal team.