Delayed Delivery Lawyers in New Jersey
Each labor is unique to the woman involved, heavily influenced by numerous factors related to the mother’s physical state and genetic predispositions, as well as the baby’s health status, size, and position. Unfortunately for some expectant mothers, labor is long, which increases the likelihood that their babies will suffer injuries at birth. Nevertheless, a long labor does not necessarily harm your baby when the right medical intervention occurs at the right time. With proper monitoring, medications, timing, and preparedness, prolonged labor can conclude with a healthy, happy baby and mother. If your labor failed to progress and your baby was born with birth injuries, you likely ask yourself what could have prevented the tragic outcome. Having your case reviewed by an experienced New Jersey delayed delivery lawyer on our team can provide you with further clarification as to what might have happened, whether medical negligence was involved, and the possible legal avenues that you may be able to pursue to provide for your child’s future. We work with highly knowledgeable medical experts who are trained to spot and assist us with establishing liability. Please know, you can reach us anytime by filling out an online form or calling 866-708-8617 for a free consultation.
Understanding Prolonged Labor
First and foremost, it is vital to understand what constitutes prolonged labor, otherwise known as failure to progress. The average length of first-time childbirth labor is approximately 12 to 18 hours, with that number decreasing by nearly half for subsequent births However, it is not unheard of for labor to continue for twice the typical amount of time if labor proceeds too slowly or fails to progress. Uterine contractions, which work to push the baby out by dilating the cervix and creating a wide enough opening in the vagina for the baby to exit the womb, may not be doing their job. According to most in the medical community, prolonged labor is considered to be 20 or more hours with sustained contractions for first time births, and 14 hours or more for subsequent births.
What Causes Prolonged Labor?
A large baby, difficult position in the birth canal, small birth canal, small pelvis, and weak contractions may cause prolonged labor. Other potential causes and risk factors for failure to progress include multiple births, medications, and maternal stress. An experienced obstetrician or obstetrical nurse must recognize these potential causes, prepare for possible complications, and react with quick responses to fetal or maternal distress, knowing that timing is everything. Monitoring the health of mother and fetus during a difficult labor is critical, as the adverse effects of delayed delivery can be dire.
Monitoring and Treating Labor that Fails to Progress
When labor is progressing too slowly, the hospital team or midwife typically monitors the fetus for distress through a fetal heart monitor that measures heart rate, which should be between 110 to 160 beats per minute during labor. A fetal heart monitor can show a slow, fast, or irregular heartbeat, signaling fetal distress due to possible hypoxia (oxygen deprivation). The medical team also monitors the frequency and strength of contractions. After confirming weak contractions by an intrauterine pressure catheter placement test, which is a device placed internally to measure contractions, a doctor may consider inducing labor with medications. The labor-inducing drug Pitocin is frequently administered to increase the strength and frequency of contractions and to move labor along. Physicians may also prescribe rest or changing positions, for example, squatting. There are various methods used to help a pregnant woman relax as well, which may also help labor progress.
Other solutions for prolonged labor are largely dependent upon when labor has stalled. In particular, if the baby is in the birth canal, an obstetrician may use forceps or a vacuum extractor to guide the baby out of the vagina. However, if labor is stalled before the baby moves into the birth canal despite strong contractions, or the fetus is in distress, the medical team may need to perform a cesarean section to prevent more serious harm to the baby.
Injuries and Complications from Delayed Delivery
The risks to the baby of sustaining the compression and stress of contractions over many hours include: oxygen deprivation, irregular heart rate, dangerous toxins in the amniotic fluid, and serious infection. Due to the extensive risks to both mother and child, careful monitoring throughout the labor process is paramount, as is determining when the baby must be delivered in an emergency.
While babies commonly experience minor injuries related to birth, more severe injuries often result from prolonged labor and difficult deliveries if medical intervention is not prompt. A baby’s brain and spine may be affected after sustaining hours of contractions. Extended head and spinal compression may cause brain damage due to oxygen deprivation and head squeezing. Likewise, conditions such as cerebral palsy are a distinct possibility. Cerebral palsy is a brain disorder resulting in cognitive and motor disabilities when the baby is oxygen deprived, injured from delivery-assistance instruments or alternatively injured by extended labor. Other birth injuries that may result from delayed delivery include:
- Bleeding in the baby’s brain
- Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy
- Cognitive impairments
- Developmental delays
- Movement disorders and partial or complete paralysis
- Spinal cord injuries
Holding Negligent Medical Professionals Liable for Delayed Delivery Birth Injuries
If a child suffers birth injuries from prolonged labor and delayed delivery, they may need support, treatment, and therapy for extended periods or throughout their life. Lifelong healthcare is costly, particularly for those suffering from cognitive impairments that affect speech, learning, movement, and social behaviors. When your healthcare team’s decisions place your health and the health of your baby at risk, such as waiting too long to deliver when labor fails to progress, you have the right to seek answers and compensation from negligent providers. Become informed about medical negligence in the birthing process and receive guidance from a dedicated NJ delayed birth attorney if your delivery went wrong. Your baby’s optimal quality of life should not be compromised. Call 866-708-8617 to discuss your individual case and legal options with a member of our team today. Consultations are provided at no cost, and our representation is free unless we obtain compensation for you.