What can Lead to a Complicated Labor?
A woman’s body is uniquely designed to carry and birth a baby. Her uterus provides protection for the growing fetus and the placenta that grows with the baby provides nourishment. Her body’s hormones create the changes necessary to house and sustain the fetus and prepare for childbirth. Despite the beauty of this uniquely functioning system, injuries and complications for the mother and child may occur along the way through the prenatal period, to the birth itself, and the period thereafter. Birthing complications may happen because of maternal or fetal genetic factors or illness. Unfortunately, mothers and infants may be harmed by medical errors also. When medical professionals make mistakes that could have been avoided by taking appropriate actions, consulting with specialists, avoiding stubborn prejudgments, and ensuring effective communication is standard among the healthcare team, then negligence that injures a patient may be the source of a malpractice claim.
Medical Complications when Having a Baby
Complications occur that may prolong labor, impede a vaginal birth, or injure mother or baby. For example, when the fetus is in an abnormal position, meaning facing any other way but headfirst and rearward facing (facing the mother’s back), labor can be protracted, and the baby may have to be born through cesarean section if an obstetrician cannot turn the baby round right. Other problems that may lead to injuries to the newborn at birth occur when the fetus cannot safely navigate through the mother’s pelvis, a condition called cephalopelvic disproportion. This may be due to fetal macrosomia or an overly large baby, common to mothers with gestational diabetes or obesity, or the mother’s small pelvis.
Regardless of the reason, labor progress can be slowed or stopped due to this problem, which can cause health problems to mother and child. The fetus can experience distress in long labor as it endures pressure from contractions that can cut off oxygen supply when the umbilical cord gets compressed, affecting fetal heart rate. Also, in such a tight space, the baby’s shoulder or arm can get caught, resulting in torn ligaments or nerve damage. Shoulder dystocia occurs when the shoulder gets lodged around the mother’s pubic bone as the head is delivering, causing extension of the space between the neck and shoulder, which could lead to a brachial plexus injury. The brachial plexus is a grouping of nerves that govern movement in the hands, arms, and shoulder. A newborn may be unable to move an arm or hand, which indicates potential nerve damage.
Prolonged labor or induced labor has its own dangers to the fetus, like oxygen deprivation that can lead to brain damage and cerebral palsy. While many physicians allow labor to proceed, trying hormone inducement to strengthen contractions, repositioning the pregnant woman to her side or on all fours, and instrument assistance to extract the fetus, the safest solution is a cesarean section when the fetus is in distress, umbilical cord prolapse occurs, or the uterus ruptures in the active stage of labor, leading to hemorrhaging and possible maternal death. Timing is everything. Many a malpractice claim has been based on negligent failure to perform a cesarean section to prevent injuries or death to mother or baby.
As with many birth injuries, the medical team plays an active role in making sure the right decisions are made at the right time. Given the technology to monitor the fetus and active observation of mother, along with knowledge of her preconditions, genetic disorders, and pregnancy history, healthcare providers who perform birth assistance must recognize when to do what is necessary to protect both parties from infections, a common occurrence with prolonged labor; placental abruption, when the placenta detaches from the uterine wall prematurely; and other injuries inherent in the daunting birth process where so many pieces must align to bring new life to the word outside the womb.
Professional Duty to Prepare and Handle a Complicated Labor and How to Prove Neglect
To successfully prosecute a medical malpractice lawsuit, you must prove that your doctor or other medical team member owed you and your baby a duty to perform their jobs up to the standards expected and accepted by physicians and birth assistants with similar experience and education under similar circumstances, that they breached that duty and caused your or your baby’s injuries.
If you or your baby suffered injuries from the negligence of your birthing team, see a medical malpractice attorney on our dedicated legal team, who can steer you on the path to receiving compensation for your injuries or your baby’s by filing a malpractice claim. Since you may need continuing medical care, as might your baby, to repair the damages negligently inflicted by careless medical practice, our lawyers can help you prepare and execute your case with the strongest evidence and support, so that you can successfully negotiate or navigate through the legal system to gain what is rightfully owed to you. Contact our team at (866)-708-8617 so you know the time limits within which to file your claim and how to begin the process of rectifying the damage done by mishandling medical complications in the labor and delivery process.