When we think of birth injury, most people assume it only applies to injuries sustained by the infant. However, when things start to go wrong during labor and delivery, it is also possible for mothers to experience injury and physical trauma. Injuries that occur to the mother during birth can offer grounds for a malpractice lawsuit if negligence can be proven. In today’s blog, we explore maternal birth injury: What it is, how it can be caused, and whether it can provide the basis for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
What is maternal birth injury?
Maternal birth injury is defined as any physical trauma experienced by a mother during the process of giving birth. While many medical malpractice lawsuits and news stories focus on injuries sustained by infants during birth (as their fragile bodies are highly susceptible to injury) it is still not uncommon for mothers to also experience physical trauma. While not all maternal birth injuries are the result of medical negligence, when they are, they offer grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
How does maternal birth injury occur?
There are a variety of ways in which a mother can experience birth trauma through medical negligence. Some of the more common causes of birth injury include:
Faulty use of forceps. Forceps are metal clamps that are placed on the baby’s head during labor to rotate its body or guide it down the birth canal. When used incorrectly, forceps can cause genital tears, incontinence, and significant damage to the bladder or uterus.
Incorrect suturing. Following a cesarean or episiotomy, stitches are necessary to close the wound. When these stitches are done incorrectly it can lead to infection, scarring, and lasting pain.
Placental abruption. This condition is an extremely serious birth complication that involves the placenta detaching from the womb too soon. When placental abrubtion occurs, it leads to significant risks for both mother and child as the nutrients and oxygen that are delivered to the baby via the placenta are no longer available. Mothers are at risk of organ damage, significant blood loss, and may need to endure a hysterectomy. While serious, placental abrubtion symptoms are obvious early on so a competant doctor will be able to mitigate the risk of damage by catching it early. If a doctor fails to act on early warning signs of placental abrubtion then you may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.