Birth Complications and Labor Injuries
Serving New York, New Jersey, & Connecticut
When a couple goes to a hospital or birthing center for the woman to give birth to their baby, they never expect birth complications. Unfortunately, doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists, and other medical professionals present for the birth can make errors that have devastating and lifelong consequences for the infant, the mother, or both. Some avoidable childbirth complications are so serious that the baby or mother does not survive the birth process.
If you or your baby has suffered serious impairments or your family has suffered the loss of a child due to complications during labor, you have the right to contact a New York birth injury attorney. The birth injury statute of limitations in New York gives parents 30 months from the date of the injury to file a medical malpractice lawsuit and 24 months from the date of the infant’s death to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Prolonged Labor and Failure to Progress
According to the American Pregnancy Association, labor lasting longer than 20 hours for a first-time mother and more than 14 hours for a mother who has given birth before is officially prolonged labor. This is a common labor complication that affects up to eight percent of women.
Prolonged labor requires assessment and intervention during the active labor phase. Some of the most common causes include:
- Large baby
- Mother is delivering two or more babies
- Pain medication weakening or slowing contractions
- Slow dilation of the cervix
- Slow effacement
- Small birth canal or pelvis
- Stress, fear, and other emotional reactions.
Non-Reassuring Fetal Status (Fetal Distress)
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recently replaced the term fetal distress because it felt it was not specific enough and could result in delayed or improper treatment. Common reasons for fetal struggle include low levels of amniotic fluid, heartbeat irregularity, movement problems, and muscle tone problems.
These complications during delivery are most common when the mother is overdue by two or more weeks. They can result from a pre-existing condition in the mother or fetus. Some strategies to overcome complications during labor include changing the position of the mother, increasing her hydration, and making sure that she has appropriate oxygen levels. It may be necessary to perform a Cesarean section if conditions do not improve.
Perinatal Asphyxia – Failing to Initiate and Sustain Breathing at Birth
This problem occurs due to a lack of oxygen in the baby and it can start before, during, or immediately after birth. If this childbirth complication is not quickly resolved, it can cause low levels of oxygen, excessive carbon dioxide, and too much acid present in the blood. Unfortunately, these complications of vaginal delivery can cause internal organs or the heart to malfunction.
The baby will typically have a low APGAR score for up to five minutes after birth. Indications of perinatal asphyxia include:
- Amniotic fluid stained with meconium
- Low heart rate
- Poor skin color
- Weakened breathing
- Weakened muscle tone
This is one of the more uncommon delivery complications. When it does occur, the mother delivers the head of the baby normally but the shoulders remain inside of her. First-time mothers are more apt to have this complication, which can result in an unplanned Caesarian section. A doctor turning the baby’s shoulders manually or the mother changing position can possibly prevent it. When handled improperly, shoulder dystocia can cause fetal fractures, brain injury, nerve injury, and other serious complications.
Excessive Bleeding and Blood Loss
It is normal and not indicative of labor complications for a woman to lose up to 500 milliliters of blood during a vaginal delivery and 1,000 milliliters during a Caesarian delivery. Amounts greater than that for up to 12 weeks after delivery indicates postpartum hemorrhaging. Most women develop this problem due to a weak uterine tone after the expulsion of the placenta. It is a serious complication that can result in death, organ failure, shock, or low blood pressure.
The use of forceps, multiple previous births, obesity, prolonged labor, and hypertension are just some potential causes of excessive bleeding. Medical staff must act quickly to prevent a serious outcome. Some potential ways to treat excessive blood loss include hysterectomy to remove the uterus, massage of the uterus, removing any retained parts of the placenta, and tying off blood vessels that are still bleeding.
Malposition – Fetal Position
Complications during labor and delivery can also include the improper position of the fetus. Besides being breech, the baby could be lying sideways or facing upwards. To turn the baby, the attending physician may need to use forceps, enlarge the vaginal opening by performing an episiotomy, change the baby’s position manually, or opt for a Cesarean section.
The umbilical cord also presents potential problems. It could become compressed, get wrapped around the baby and cut off air supply, or the mother may deliver it first. These situations require immediate intervention to prevent a tragic outcome.
Placenta Previa – Placenta Covering Cervix
Complications during delivery involving placenta previa affect one in 200 women during the last trimester of pregnancy. It means that the placenta is covering the cervical opening. This typically necessitates a Cesarean section. It is most common in women with four or more previous pregnancies, fibroids, a previous history of placenta previa, and smokers. Bleeding during late pregnancy is the most common symptom, although this typically does not produce pain. Bed rest, a blood transfusion, or immediate delivery of the baby are the most common interventions.
Cephalopelvic Disproportion Complication
This complication during labor affects approximately one in 250 women. The term means that the baby’s head is too large and will not fit through the pelvis of the mother. It can also refer to a baby who is in an unusual pre-birth position or a mother who has a misshapen or small pelvis. It will normally be necessary to perform a Caesarian section.
Uterine Rupture Risk
Mothers who have previously had a Cesarean delivery and go on to give birth vaginally have a small risk of the scar opening during the subsequent delivery. This is a serious labor complication that requires immediate intervention to prevent oxygen deprivation to the baby or excessive bleeding to the mother.
Other risk factors for uterine rupture include age over 35, labor induction, the baby’s size, and the use of forceps or other instruments to facilitate a vaginal delivery. An abnormal heart rate in mother or baby, slow progression of labor, vaginal bleeding, and abdominal scars or pain are some of the most common causes of this serious problem.
Rapid Labor – Precipitous Labor
Rapid or precipitous labor can last only three to five hours as opposed to the typical six to 18. Risk factors include a small baby, compliant birth canal, strong and efficient uterine contractions, and a previous history of it. Rapid labor can be problematic because there is little time for the mother to rest between contractions, it increases the risk of tearing, and there may be insufficient time to make it to the hospital. Potential risks for the baby include amniotic fluid aspiration and the possibility of not being born in a sterile environment.
Pregnancy and Birth Complications Can Be Fatal
Approximately 700 American women and more than 300,000 around the world die each year due to complications during pregnancy, childbirth, or after giving birth. The most typical causes include excessive bleeding, eclampsia leading to high blood pressure, infection, complications from miscarriage or abortion, and complications present during pregnancy that worsen during the birth process. Most of these deaths are preventable in the United States when the pregnant woman receives appropriate healthcare.
We Can Help if You or Your Infant Were Injured During Labor or Delivery
At the Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm, our attorneys are here to help when the unimaginable happens. We advise and represent families whose circumstances involve:
- A doctor’s failure to perform an emergency C-section that should have been performed
- Inadequate fetal heart rate monitoring that led to an injury
- Cerebral palsy and brain damage from inadequate oxygen during the course of labor and delivery
- Problematic epidurals and anesthesiological malpractice
- Improperly induced labor utilizing labor-augmenting drugs such as oxytocin/pitocin
- The need for ongoing medical care
Every situation is different. We are here to provide the guidance you need to make informed choices for your family.
Contact Us for Advice | Free Case Consultation
Contact the Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm to discuss your concerns in confidence. Our New York City birth injury lawyers represent injured clients on a contingency fee basis, which means you will not pay legal fees unless we recover compensation for you and your family. Serving New York State, Connecticut, and New Jersey.
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