The United States is the most-dangerous developed country in which to give birth. A study performed in 2018 found that 700 mothers die in childbirth each year. Additionally, 50,000 more suffer severe injuries. Many of these deaths and injuries are the result of medical negligence at the hands of nurses and doctors involved in the delivery process. Proper care, diligent monitoring procedures, and screening for maternal risk factors can help to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities from childbirth.
Common Maternal Childbirth Injuries
When referring to childbirth injuries, the common default is to focus on injuries sustained by infants. However, labor and delivery are intense processes for the human body to endure. As such, thousands of mothers face a variety of injuries when they enter the delivery room.
When drugs to induce labor are introduced into a mother’s system, violent contractions can cause a rupture of the uterus. This poses life-threatening risks to mothers and fetuses.
Tears to the tissues and muscles surrounding the vagina can occur during delivery. This typically results from breech births, births with larger infants, or when a mother has difficulty controlling pushes. These tears can become extensive, leading to a rectovaginal fistula, which is a tear of the wall between the vagina and anus.
Preeclampsia is hypertension or high blood pressure, that results from pregnancy. This condition, which should be screened for pre-childbirth, can cause damage to internal organs. If left untreated this condition can become fatal for both the expectant mother and the infant.
This condition typically occurs post-partum. Symptoms develop usually one day following childbirth but can take up to 12 days to become apparent. Hemorrhaging is excessive maternal bleeding, and can be caused by placental abruption (detachment), preeclampsia, an overdistended uterus, prolonged labor, or infections.
Improper suturing or stitches that go uncared for can lead to maternal infections. These infections can also result in complications from C-section births. When untreated, an infection can become life-threatening.
Many of the common maternal injuries can be avoided with proper medical care and adequate screenings prior to childbirth. Mothers who are injured during childbirth due to medical negligence can file a claim with a medical malpractice lawyer to recover compensation.
Maternal Risk Factors
Though injuries can sometimes be outside of the control of medical providers, a doctor’s negligence prior to delivery can lead to an increased risk for injury and fatality. This usually takes the form of a failure to thoroughly screen expectant mothers for risk factors associated with injuries from pregnancy, labor, and delivery.
Maternal demographic can influence a mother’s risk for a dangerous birth. Factors such as age and body weight play a role in maternal health during pregnancy. There is an increased risk for preeclampsia, premature labor, and anemia for adolescents undergoing pregnancy. Women over 35 also face an increased risk of preeclampsia, as well as gestational diabetes, dysfunctional labor, placental abruption, and stillbirth. Weight is an additional factor, with women who are classified as obese carrying a greater risk for pregnancy loss, preeclampsia, congenital malformation, diabetes, and intrauterine growth restriction. Women who are underweight face higher risks for low birth weight. Pre Existing conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, and previously difficult pregnancies can influence a mother’s risk for a dangerous delivery.