Making a birth injury claim
Pregnancy and childbirth place the mother’s body under a huge amount of strain and, unsurprisingly, some women suffer injuries. Whilst many are unavoidable, if the action or inaction of a health professional causes an injury, or makes it worse, there may be grounds for a birth injury claim.
Care before, during and after the birth
Before the birth, improperly managed conditions - such as gestational diabetes - can cause problems for the mother. If labour is inadequately monitored, signs that assistance is needed to deliver the baby can be overlooked. This can lead to injuries that may not have happened if medical professionals had acted more promptly. Incorrect stitching of the perineum after the birth, or missed signs of damage or wound infection can also cause painful complications.
Common injuries to the mother leading to a birth injury claim
- Drug or anaesthetic errors
- Injury or complications of a Caesarean Section
- Perineal tears
- Placental abruption
- Urinary or faecal incontinence
- Uterine rupture
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- Pay nothing upfront
- Pay nothing as the claim progresses
- Pay nothing if you lose
More information on injuries to mothers
What is a uterine rupture?
Uterine ruptures are rare but can happen spontaneously or at the site of the scar from a previous C-section. The stress of contractions during labour can lead to the scar giving way causing a rupture to the uterus (womb). If the rupture is not treated urgently, it can increase the risk of haemorrhaging and could permanently damage the mother’s uterine wall. It also presents a risk to the baby. Uterine rupture is an obstetric emergency.
What are the symptoms of a uterine rupture?
Some of the common uterine rupture symptoms include: • Sharp pain between contractions • Vaginal bleeding • Pain where the previous C-section scar is • Slower or less intense contractions • Increased heart rate • Hypotension. However, these symptoms do not mean that a rupture has definitely taken place, which makes it challenging to diagnose a uterine rupture.
What is a perineal tear?
During childbirth, the perineum – the area located between the vagina and the anus – can become stretched and then tear. These injuries are classified as first, second, third, and fourth degree perineal tears. Third and fourth degree perineal tears cause problems with urinary and/or faecal continence, as well as interfering with sexual intercourse. Women can feel very embarrassed and alone.
Third degree tears
A third degree tear reaches through to the muscles of the anus, meaning it is possible for faeces to move through the rectum without the patient being able to control it. It can take months for a third degree perineal tear to heal after the initial repair, and the woman can experience a significant amount of discomfort and pain until the healing process is complete. If the tear is not stitched properly, then full faecal continence may never return.
Fourth degree tears
A fourth degree tear impacts the perineal muscles, the rectal tissue and the anal sphincter. Fourth degree injuries can affect the patient’s bladder, sexual and bowel functions. Unless treated properly this can be permanent and impact on all aspects of the woman's life.
Planned vs emergency Caesarean Section
Whether planned or emergency, a Caesarean Section is a surgical procedure so, like all surgery, comes with risks of complications. Before the Caesarean takes place, these risks should be clearly explained to the mother or next of kin by a health professional and consent obtained. A Caesarean may be planned for a number of medical reasons including: • The baby is breech • It is a multiple pregnancy of two or more babies • Placenta praevia • There is a risk of transmission of infection from mother to baby.An emergency Caesarean will be performed where there is an immediate threat to the life of the mother or the foetus, or where there is a prolonged labour which is not progressing.
Complications of a Caesarean Section
An estimated one in four women will have a Caesarean Section to deliver their baby. A small minority experience problems. Complications can arise due to negligence or negligence might arise in the diagnosing and treatment of complications. This could be for a variety of reasons including inadequate monitoring, poor surgical technique or problems with equipment.
Mrs Pierce had a Caesarean section for the birth of her son. After delivery Mrs Pierce noticed blood draining from her urinary catheter, hospital staff told her that there was no cause for concern. Later she developed severe pain in her lower abdomen, increased heart rate, and low urine output. It transpired that her bladder had…Read more