We often hear about advances in science and medicine that decrease infant mortality and make childbirth safer for the mother. Supposedly, new methods and technologies have the power to make pregnancy and childbirth into a secure process that threatens the health of neither the mother nor the baby. This narrative proclaims that, perhaps within this century, birth injuries will practically be things of the past.
However, the actual research into birth injuries shows something altogether different. According to a Centers for Disease Control study published in 2012, emergencies during deliveries increased by 75% in the first decade of the 21st Century. In addition, researchers found that in the days following delivery, severe complications in mothers more than doubled during this period.
Study Raises Questions about Maternal Health
Of the more than four million babies who are born in the United States each year, about 52,000 deliveries are affected by severe complications. One major cause of the 75% increase in delivery emergencies is the rise in the number of expecting mothers who are obese, older, or suffering from long-term conditions such as diabetes or kidney disease. But young, healthy women also commonly experience complications during delivery, putting their own health and that of their babies in danger.
Common Complications During Delivery
There are myriad complications and injuries that can occur during childbirth. Some of the most serious involve problems with the placenta or umbilical cord, which are responsible for transferring oxygen-rich blood and nutrients from the mother to the baby. These complications include placental abruption, umbilical cord prolapse, nuchal cord, uterine rupture, and placenta previa. Some of these problems can ultimately lead to a baby being diagnosed with cerebral palsy or other permanent conditions.
Hospitals Trying to Address the Issue
Hospitals around the country are implementing programs and strategies to try to lower the rate of delivery emergencies and complications. Among other steps, many are developing emergency protocols that have been shown to reduce trauma, injuries, and deaths. The hospitals have both altruistic and selfish motives for wanting to reduce childbirth injuries: pregnancy and delivery complications cost these hospitals billions of dollars each year, and they would like nothing more than to lower those expenses.
What Expecting Mothers Can Do
If you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, make sure you consult with a physician to ensure that you are in good health. Having a medical history to which a physician can refer is an important aspect of maintaining a healthy pregnancy. Once you are pregnant, you should go in for regular medical checkups, so that your physician can look for any signs of a high-risk pregnancy.
What to Do if You Experience a Birth Injury
If you or your child is injured during childbirth, and you believe the injury may be the result of medical negligence, you should contact a personal injury attorneyimmediately. An attorney can review the facts of your case and determine whether you have a viable claim. If so, they can help you seek the compensation you deserve.