The childbirth process is so delicate that if obstetricians are not careful, they can cause serious injury to the baby and the mother. When physicians cause harm to a mother or her baby during labor or delivery, these injuries are known as birth injuries.
Birth injuries can range from severe bruising to a broken bone for babies. For mothers, birth injuries can result in physical trauma, psychological trauma, or a combination of both. Here are the four ways that the negligence of obstetricians can cause maternal injury to mothers and lead to a medical malpractice claim in Memphis.
1. Severe bleeding (hemorrhage)
Postpartum hemorrhage is severe bleeding after childbirth. This dangerous condition can happen between 24 hours to 12 weeks after giving birth. When a woman suffers from postpartum hemorrhage, she has lost at least 32 fluid ounces of blood or greater after delivery. Severe bleeding can occur regardless of whether the woman had a vaginal delivery or a Cesarean section.
There are several causes of postpartum hemorrhage. When a woman’s contractions are not strong enough to compress the blood vessels where the placenta connects to the uterine wall, it can cause postpartum hemorrhage. Severe bleeding can also happen when the parts of the placenta remain attached to the uterine wall. Obstetricians can also cause postpartum hemorrhage when the woman’s reproductive organs have been damaged during delivery.
2. High blood pressure
Even though high blood pressure is a condition that most people want to avoid, high blood pressure during pregnancy is a very serious matter. Mothers who experience high blood pressure during pregnancy have a greater chance of experiencing complications. High blood pressure can affect the development of the placenta, hindering the mother’s ability to transfer nutrients and oxygen to the baby. When this happens, the mother is in danger of having an early delivery or experiencing placental separation.
There are different forms of high blood pressure that a woman can experience during pregnancy. Women who have high blood pressure prior to giving birth have a condition known as chronic hypertension. Women who suffer from chronic hypertension are also in danger of suffering from preeclampsia, a condition that can cause protein in the urine and swelling within the mother. Gestational hypertension is a form of high blood pressure that happens during the latter part of pregnancy, but the symptoms of preeclampsia are not present.
During pregnancy, labor, and delivery, mother and baby are at risk of exposure to serious infections. When these go untreated, they can cause serious consequences for the mother. Some maternal infections that can cause serious health issues for both mother and baby include:
- Chorioamnionitis is a dangerous infection that can affect a baby’s brain and spine if left untreated. The infection usually begins in the mother’s urinary tract and then moves toward the fetus.
- Group B Streptococcus (GBS). This infection is a common bacteria that is carried by 25% of all adult women in the United States. It is usually located in the vaginal, gastrointestinal, and rectal areas. One of the most dangerous aspects of this infection is that it does not trigger symptoms. A woman could have no idea that she is carrying the infection until it is too late.
- This infection creates symptoms that are similar to the flu in adults. Even though it is a harmless infection, for the most part, it can cause serious health risks for pregnant women.
- Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic infection that can often be found in uncooked meat, certain types of soil, and cat feces. Many people carry some form of Toxoplasma gondii in their bodies, and it does not mean that they will be infected. However, if toxoplasmosis is passed down to babies, they can suffer from brain damage or hearing loss.
4. Complications from labor and delivery
Obstetricians have a huge responsibility in the childbirth process. When they make medical errors during the labor and delivery process, it can cause serious harm to the mother and baby, and affect a mother’s health for years after giving birth. Some of the possible complications that mothers can experience from medical errors include:
- Anesthesia and spinal epidural injuries. When obstetricians fail to properly monitor a woman’s heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen levels, it can lead to serious harm when anesthesia or spinal epidurals are administered.
- Cesarean section complications. A cesarean section is a fragile procedure that requires obstetricians to safely perform surgical adhesions. In addition to being scarred from the surgery, women who have had cesarean sections can suffer from bleeding and infection.
- Episiotomy injuries. Episiotomy is a type of surgical incision that enlarges the vagina and assists with childbirth, especially when there are complications. When obstetricians fail to properly suture the incision, infections and excessive bleeding can happen.
- Uterine rupture. There are some cases where the drugs used to induce labor can cause a woman’s uterus to rupture. This condition can place life-threatening risks to the mother and baby. If the mother is given too high a dose, it can also cause violent contractions.
- Vaginal tears. When obstetricians are unprepared for how large the baby’s head is, it can cause the woman to experience painful tears on or near the vagina. The woman can also experience vaginal tears when she has issues controlling pushes.
The medical malpractice lawyers at Bailey & Greer, PLLC, provide you with the top-notch legal representation you need when you have suffered at the hands of medical professionals. We are small enough to care, big enough to fight, and experienced enough to win. Call our firm at 901-475-7434, or complete our contact form to schedule your free consultation.
Since graduating magna cum laude in 2005 from the University of Memphis School of Law, Thomas has helped make a difference in the lives of victims of serious personal injury, wrongful death, and professional negligence. Thomas has extensive trial experience in both state and federal court. Among other victories in the courtroom, Thomas obtained several impressive jury verdicts and settlements
Read more about Thomas R. Greer