Maternal Birth Trauma That Leads to Death
The actions, or inaction, of a health care team may increase the risk of maternal birth trauma that leads to death for mothers in Elko, Nevada, and throughout the U.S. During pregnancy, doctors may be guilty of medical negligence if they fail to diagnose or treat health conditions that may affect the mother or the baby.
Maternal Birth Trauma Statistics in Nevada
Between 25% and 34% of mothers, and about 45% of new mothers, report that they experience trauma during delivery. Approximately 7 in 1000 births in the US result in injuries. Poor management of labor and delivery can lead to birth injury liability claims, with 40% of such claims resulting from failure to identify severe health problems before birth.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a total of 861 mothers died while giving birth in 2020. The maternal mortality rate during that year was 23.8 deaths per 100,000 live births. The statistics paint a stark picture of the potential dangers associated with giving birth.
If you are concerned about whether it is safe to have a baby in the US, proper medical care can prevent many of these life-threatening issues.
Factors Contributing to Maternal Birth Trauma
Maternal birth injuries can result from various conditions during childbirth, posing a risk to the mother.
The shape or size of the mother’s pelvis may not be conducive to birth. As a result, the child may struggle or twist during delivery, which can reduce the oxygen flow and cause birth injuries. Difficult labor, caused by a fetus that is awkwardly positioned or a cervix that does not expand normally, can also lead to injuries. Prolonged labor is often associated with a higher risk of birth injuries.
Gestational diabetes can lead to problems for both the mother and child, including preeclampsia, macrosomia, and the risk of premature birth. Preeclampsia, where the mother experiences dangerously high blood pressure, increases the risk of birth injuries, such as brain damage and oxygen deprivation. However, with proper management, the risk of maternal birth injury can be reduced.
Consequences of Maternal Birth Trauma in Nevada
Medical negligence during birth can have both short-term and long-term effects on the mother.
Short-Term Consequences of Maternal Birth Trauma
Birth trauma can cause immediate issues for mothers who may experience short-term effects such as blood loss, dangerously high or low blood pressure, injury to the uterus, bladder, or bowels, lack of control over urination, and severe vaginal or uterine tears.
With proper medical treatment, many of these short-term effects of childbirth negligence can be treated. However, if left untreated, they can cause permanent damage, and may even become life-threatening.
Birth trauma to mothers may have long-term consequences. A birth injury can have a significant impact on your mental health, personal relationships, and overall quality of life. It may also result in sexual dysfunction, chronic pain, and a higher risk of injury during future pregnancies and deliveries.
If infections are left untreated, they can cause damage to the mother’s organs. Delivery complications involving forceps and vacuum may lead to long-term issues with the pelvic floor, resulting in incontinence and pain.
Health Risks Associated With Lack of Proper Prenatal Care
Medical Negligence and Mistakes
Medical negligence can happen at any stage, including before, during, or shortly after the birth of a child.
Negligence During Pregnancy
Healthcare providers may not provide sufficient prenatal care, resulting in negligence. For instance, this includes not conducting proper tests to diagnose medical conditions and not identifying ectopic pregnancy, where the fetus develops outside the fallopian tube.
Healthcare providers may also fail to diagnose or manage contagious diseases, and prescribe selective serotonin inhibitors during pregnancy, which may help with these conditions but increase the risk of birth defects. Additionally, there may be a miscalculation of fetus size. If there is a problem with the baby that goes unnoticed, or if the mother has an underlying medical condition that requires attention but is not correctly diagnosed, it could harm the child or the mother.
Negligence During Delivery
During childbirth, medical negligence can include inadequate monitoring, failure to address tearing or bleeding, failure to perform a necessary C-section, improper use of forceps or vacuum delivery, and excessive force during delivery that can harm both the mother and the baby.
Negligence After Birth
Medical professionals must monitor the mother after childbirth to avoid medical negligence resulting in serious harm. Negligence can include failing to manage complications like hemorrhages, infections, and tears, causing significant suffering.
Delayed or Inadequate Emergency Care
Delaying emergency care, such as a C-section during birth, can have catastrophic consequences. For instance, if a mother and child are kept in delivery for too long despite signs of fetal distress, it may cause injury to the child and mother. Signs of fetal distress may include suboptimal oxygen levels or concerning changes in the baby’s heartbeat. However, if a doctor acts promptly, birth trauma may be prevented. If a doctor fails to provide emergency care promptly, leading to birth injuries, it may be a form of medical negligence.
When Lack of Prenatal Care Leads to Legal Action
To file a medical malpractice lawsuit for insufficient prenatal care, you follow the same process as any other medical malpractice lawsuit. Healthcare providers must meet a certain standard of professional care. If they fail to do so, you can take legal action. You and your child may be eligible for compensation for any birth injuries or damages caused by the provider’s negligence.
Maternal Birth Trauma-Related Deaths
The average maternal and infant mortality rate in the U.S. is 14 deaths per 100,000 live births. High blood pressure, obstructed labor, and heavy bleeding are the most common causes.
Almost half of these deaths could have been prevented through regular prenatal checkups that help identify potential issues. Where proper checkups are not conducted, or adequate care is not provided during birth, it is considered medical negligence. In such cases, the healthcare provider can be held liable for any resulting related deaths.
Maternal Injuries Due to Lack of Care
Mothers may sustain a wide variety of injuries during delivery, ranging from those that are easily treatable to those that can cause serious and lifelong harm. Medical negligence can lead to birth injuries to mothers, including:
Undiagnosed infections can potentially cause sepsis and septic shock. This puts both the mother and the baby at high risk for mortality or other injuries.
Giving birth can result in psychological trauma for mothers, which can manifest in Postnatal Depression (PND) and Post-natal Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Negative experiences before, during, and after childbirth can cause a mental breakdown. It is important for medical professionals to be aware of the symptoms of these conditions to identify and treat them early. Symptoms to watch out for include seclusion, difficulty bonding with the baby, and feelings of guilt and failure.
Perineal Tears During Birth
Perineal tears, which are tears occurring to the area between the vagina and anus, are a normal part of the birthing process and typically cannot be avoided. However, some of these tears can be caused by negligent use of equipment during labor. In case of perineal tears, quick treatment is necessary to avoid undue pain and suffering, as well as potential complications such as infections. Vaginal tears are categorized into 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th degree tears.
The severity of injury increases with the degree. First-degree tears are usually only skin deep and have a good chance of quick recovery. Second-degree tears are intermediate and typically require stitches and a few weeks to heal. On the other hand, third and fourth-degree tears are the most severe types of vaginal tears that damage the anal sphincter and muscles of the anus.
Postpartum Hemorrhage (PPH)
It is normal for a woman to experience some blood loss after giving birth. This typically lasts for two to six weeks after the baby is born. However, if a woman experiences abnormally heavy bleeding for an extended period, it can be dangerous. In some cases, it may be the cause of women dying from childbirth.
A Ruptured or Prolapsed Uterus
Ruptured uterus and prolapsed uterus are potential complications during pregnancy that can be life-threatening if not diagnosed and treated promptly for both mother and baby. A ruptured uterus occurs when the uterus breaks open or tears, causing serious injury to the mother. This typically occurs when a vaginal delivery is attempted after a previous c-section. Uterine prolapse, on the other hand, occurs when the pelvic muscles weaken after childbirth and the uterus falls into the vaginal canal. Although preventable, maternal birth trauma can and does happen in Elko, as well as across Nevada and the rest of the U.S. If you or your newborn has suffered harm due to medical malpractice, you may consider consulting with a birth injury attorney to discuss your options for pursuing compensation for expenses related to medical bills and treatment.