As you might know, a C-section is a term to describe a delivery by a surgical procedure called a cesarean section. The procedure involves delivering the baby through an incision in the abdominal wall and uterus rather than through the vagina, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Many Philadelphia residents likely know someone who underwent a C-section to birth or who was born by C-section. It is important to understand how cesarean section complications can happen and whether you are at risk of a C-section birth injury.
Over the last few decades, more and more women have been having C-sections. In some cases, these cesarean births are planned and scheduled ahead of time. In other situations, they are performed as a result of an issue that arises during childbirth.
In 2013, a fact sheet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 32.7 percent all deliveries were by cesarean section (or 1,284,339 births). It means that nearly one-third of all pregnant women, or one out of every three, will experience a C-section delivery. As with any surgical procedure, cesarean sections come with the risk of serious complications.
Common Types of C-Section Injuries to the Baby
How can an infant sustain birth injuries during a C-section? Cesareans can cause stress to the baby in different ways during delivery, and in some situations, the infant can even sustain injuries resulting from the surgical incision. According to the American Pregnancy Association, injuries to the infant can occur in many different ways. They include:
- Premature birth: if your doctor failed to calculate your baby’s weight accurately, delivering by C-section can result in a delivery happening too early and your baby being born with a low birth weight and possibly other complications associated with a low birth rate.
- Fetal lacerations: a surgical incision during a cesarean section can result in a nick or a cut to the baby. Serious fetal lacerations are not common, but they do happen, on average, in about one to two babies out of every 100 delivered by C-section (or about 1 percent to 2 percent).
- Oxygen deprivation: studies suggest that babies born by C-section deliveries often have more respiratory issues than babies born through a vaginal delivery. When C-sections are delayed, a lack of oxygen to the infant’s brain can cause brain damage. Such oxygen deprivation has been linked to severe birth injuries such as cerebral palsy.
Common Types of C-Section Injuries to the Mother
Babies are not the only ones at risk of sustaining a serious injury during a cesarean section. According to the American Pregnancy Association, common injuries to the mother can include:
- Anesthesia errors: during a C-section, a woman typically will be given spinal anesthesia or general anesthesia. Medical mistakes related to anesthesia can involve the anesthesiologist giving a woman the wrong amount of anesthesia or failing to note a woman’s allergies to a certain drug and causing an allergic reaction to the anesthesia.
- Hemorrhaging: when a woman has a C-section, she typically loses more blood than during a vaginal delivery. Given the amount of blood loss, C-sections involve a risk of hemorrhaging, which can ultimately lead to anemia and/or require a blood transfusion. Indeed, the American Pregnancy Association reports that anywhere from one to six women out of every 100 who have a cesarean section require a blood transfusion.
- Blood clots: one of the common risks of a C-section is the development of blood clots. These are typically preventable if the mother is monitored regularly and permitted to walk around soon after the surgical procedure.
- Infections: when you have a C-section, you can develop an infection at the site of the surgical incision, but infections can also occur in the uterus, the bladder, and other pelvic organs.
- Organ lacerations: during the surgical incision, pelvic organs can sustain lacerations. For instance, if the bladder is lacerated during the cesarean, the mother can require additional surgery to repair this medical error.
- Other surgical issues: numerous other issues can arise as a result of a C-section. For instance, about two out of every 100 women sustain injuries to organs such as the bladder or bowel. In addition, scar tissue also known as adhesions can develop inside the pelvic region, which can result in pain and blockages. In some cases, adhesions can lead to complications in the event of another pregnancy.
Injuries When Doctors Do Not Order a C-Section
We know that C-sections can result in injuries to the baby or the mother, but not having a C-section can also be dangerous in certain circumstances. Why do physicians decide to perform a cesarean section? The reasons vary, but according to the Mayo Clinic, they often include:
- Emergency medical situation;
- Prolonged labor;
- Baby’s vitals declining;
- Atypical position of the baby;
- Multiple births;
- Vaginal birth is not possible; and
- Vaginal birth is too risky for the mother and/or child.
But what injuries can occur when a doctor does not order a C-section when she or he should have?
Obstetricians are supposed to order a cesarean delivery when that surgical procedure would be safer than delivering the baby vaginally. In short, when a doctor delays performing a C-section, the baby can suffer severe birth injuries. In most cases, your doctor can identify complications during prenatal appointments signaling a high-risk pregnancy and can determine whether a C-section should be performed. If your obstetrician failed to perform a C-section and your baby suffered birth injuries, you may be entitled to seek compensation to cover the costs of your family’s medical bills related to the injury by filing a medical malpractice claim.
Contact a Pennsylvania C-Section Lawyer
If you suffered an injury during a C-section or if your child sustained a birth injury during a cesarean section, you should have a compassionate medical malpractice attorney review your medical records. An experienced Philadelphia C-section lawyer can answer your questions and explain your legal options. Contact The Colleran Firm today to speak with a dedicated advocate.