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Birth Injuries to Mother

We regularly help people make medical negligence claims, if they have suffered unexpected problems following medical or dental treatment, advice or surgical procedures.

Birth Injuries to Mother Compensation Claims Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee 

If you have suffered an injury during childbirth which you believe could have been prevented, you may be able to make a claim against the medical professionals responsible.  

Making a claim for a birth injury to the mother can be a complex process and requires significant legal expertise and practical experience in bringing such claims. Calio Claims specialist medical negligence team have a comprehensive understanding of such claims and understand all of the ways in which you may have suffered loss as a result of your injury. To discuss your specific circumstances with our understanding lawyers, call us today on 0800 988 8082 or complete our online enquiry form and one of our specialists will get back to you right away.  

The majority of births are straightforward, but there are occasions where problems can occur which result in injuries to the mother. Sometimes these injuries can be due to negligence caused by the medical experts involved.  

Typical injuries can include: 

Pre-eclampsia 

Some pregnant women will suffer from pre-eclampsia, usually during the second half of pregnancy (from around 20 weeks) or soon after their baby is delivered.  

Early signs of pre-eclampsia include high blood pressure (hypertension) and protein in your urine (proteinuria). It's unlikely that you will notice these symptoms, but they should be picked up by your doctor during routine antenatal appointments. 

In some cases, further symptoms can develop, including: 

  • swelling of the feet, ankles, face and hands caused by fluid retention (oedema) 
  • severe headaches 
  • vision problems 
  • pain below the ribs 

Although rare, a number of complications affecting both mother and baby can develop if pre-eclampsia isn't diagnosed and monitored. These problems include: 

Fits (eclampsia) 

Eclampsia describes involuntary contraction of the muscles (convulsion) that pregnant women can experience, usually after week 20 of pregnancy or immediately after the birth. During an eclamptic fit, the mother's arms, legs, neck or jaw will twitch involuntarily in repetitive, erratic movements. Most women make a full recovery from eclampsia, however, there's a small risk of permanent disability or brain damage if the fits are severe.  

HELLP syndrome  

HELLP syndrome is a rare liver and blood clotting disorder that can affect pregnant women. It's most likely to occur immediately after the baby is delivered but can appear any time after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and in rare cases before 20 weeks. HELLP syndrome is more common than eclampsia and the only way to treat the condition is to deliver the baby as soon as possible. Once the mother is in hospital and receiving treatment, it's likely she will make a full recovery.  

Stroke 

Blood supply to the brain can be disturbed as a result of high blood pressure, this is known as a cerebral haemorrhage or stroke. If the brain doesn't get enough oxygen and nutrients from the blood, brain cells will start to die, causing brain damage and possibly death. 

Organ problems 

  • Pulmonary oedema – where fluid builds up in and around the lungs and stops them from working properly by preventing them from absorbing oxygen 
  • Kidney failure – when the kidneys cannot filter waste products from the blood causing toxins and fluids to build up in the body
  • Liver failure – disruption to the functions of the liver, digestion of proteins and fats, bile production and toxin removal, which can be fatal.  

Blood clotting disorder 

The mother's blood clotting system can break down (disseminated intravascular coagulation) resulting in either too much bleeding because there aren't enough proteins in the blood to make it clot, or in blood clots developing throughout the body because the proteins that control blood clotting become abnormally active. Blood clots can reduce or block blood flow through the blood vessels and possibly damage the organs. 

Vaginal Tears 

A perineal tear is an unintended laceration of the skin and soft tissue which separate the vagina from the anus. They mainly occur in women during vaginal childbirth which strains the perineum.  The majority of tears are usually superficial and require no treatment, however severe tears can cause significant bleeding, long-term pain or dysfunction. A perineal tear is different from an episiotomy which is an intentional incision to assist with delivery of a baby. Sometimes a perineal tear can be missed by medical staff and if it is not repaired after birth it can cause the mother pain and lead to incontinence.  

Uterine rupture and placental abruption 

An incomplete rupture refers to a surgical scar separating, but the inner layer (visceral peritoneum) staying intact. It is usually asymptomatic and does not require emergency surgery.  

Complete uterine rupture in pregnancy is a catastrophic event where a full-thickness tear develops, opening the uterus directly into the abdominal cavity. It requires urgent surgical attention to minimise risk to mother and baby. Most ruptures occur during labour, however, uterine scars from previous caesareans may break during the third trimester before contractions occur. 

A full rupture can be caused by a poorly conducted attempt at a normal vaginal delivery. They can also happen spontaneously from having had a caesarean section in the past or a history of trauma that could have caused permanent damage. 

Placental abruption is a serious condition in which the placenta starts to come away from the inside of the womb wall before the baby has been delivered. It is a medical emergency requiring urgent attention in order to save the baby’s life. Symptoms of placental abruption can include: 

  • vaginal bleeding 
  • extremely high blood pressure 
  • pain or tenderness in or around the uterus  
  • swelling in the abdomen 
  • continuous contractions without breaks 
  • change in the mother's appearance, such as a sudden paleness to the skin on the face and hands 

If a placental abruption occurs, a blood transfusion may be required after delivery and there could be problems with blood clotting. An extensive amount of pain may be experienced and mother may go into shock which can then affect other important organs, such as the liver and kidneys. 

Difficulties during or following a caesarean section 

A caesarean section is generally a safe procedure, but like all surgery it carries the risk of complications. A caesarean may be recommended as a planned (elective) procedure or executed in an emergency if a vaginal birth is considered too risky under the circumstances. They are only usually performed after week 38 of pregnancy. 

The level of risk will depend on whether the procedure is planned or carried out as an emergency, and the mother’s general health.  

Unfortunately, the complications during or after a C-section can arise due to negligence by a medical professional and you should seek the expertise of a medical negligence solicitor with experience in birth injuries if you are considering making a claim.  

Common problems following a caesarean include infection and wound problems due to inaccurate stitching or errors during surgery, which could result in nerve damage.  

Psychological injuries following a traumatic birth 

The Birth Trauma Association (BTA) supports women who have experienced a traumatic birth. It is estimated up to 20,000 women in the UK per year develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). 

There are many factors which can trigger Post-natal PTSD and comprise a mix of objective (type of delivery) and subjective (feelings of loss of control) factors, these include: 

  • lengthy labour or short and very painful labour 
  • induction 
  • poor pain relief 
  • feelings of loss of control 
  • high levels of medical intervention 
  • traumatic or emergency deliveries 
  • impersonal treatment or problems with staff attitudes 
  • not being listened to 
  • lack of information or explanation 
  • lack of privacy and dignity 
  • fear for baby’s safety 
  • stillbirth 
  • birth of a disabled baby due to birth trauma 
  • baby’s stay in special care or neonatal intensive care units 
  • poor postnatal care

Symptoms of birth trauma following a traumatic experience can include postnatal depression, PTSD, panic attacks, difficulty sleeping, nightmares and flashbacks.  

Problems with incontinence  

Urinary incontinence is the ‘involuntary loss of urine’ and the most common form is stress urinary incontinence - leaking urine due to physical exertion (sports, coughing, laughing or sneezing). 

The most common cause of pregnancy-related urinary incontinence is weak pelvic floor muscles. Pelvic floor muscles span the bottom of your pelvis and they support the uterus and help control the bladders and bowel. The increasing weight of your baby, followed by giving birth, may weaken these muscles.  

Almost half of all women experience urinary incontinence after childbirth. Unfortunately, despite incontinence being something that many new mums suffer from, it can also be caused by lack of care during childbirth, for example, a missed perineal tear. Some women may recover within a few weeks or months of giving birth, however, some women can experience long term problems. 

If you have suffered from an injury following the birth of your child as a result of medical negligence, our specialist solicitors can provide support and advice.  

Contact our birth injury claims solicitors in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee today  

To speak to someone who can help you claim the compensation you deserve, call us now on 0800 988 8082 or complete our online enquiry form and a member of our team will get back to you right away. Due to the complex nature of labour and birth claims, if you have a concern that you wish to discuss please contact our specialist team who can provide the appropriate support and advice. We have expert experience and understanding in handling labour and birth injury cases and can advise you fully of your position. We have offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee with our Dundee office serving Aberdeen and the North of Scotland.  

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