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How Do I Know If Mistakes Were Made During the Birth of My Baby?

12th September 2014

Here are some examples of birth injuries which can occur:

During pregnancy


Pre-eclampsia is a very serious condition thought to be caused by a defect with the placenta and can only be identified by regular blood pressure checks and urine samples.

Medical negligence can occur if these checks are not carried out regularly by a professional and the condition is consequently missed, resulting in injury or death to the mother or baby.

Uterine Rupture and Placental Abruption

The first sign of a uterine rupture is an abnormality in the baby’s heart rate but it can also cause heavy vaginal bleeding and severe back or abdomen pain for the mother. A uterine rupture can be caused during labour and is a tear in the wall of the uterus. A mother is at increased risk of suffering a uterine rupture if she has a vaginal birth following a previous caesarean section. If the uterus ruptures, the mother may need to undergo an emergency hysterectomy.

A placental abruption is caused when the placenta detaches from the wall of the uterus. This can result in a large amount of blood loss and can starve the baby of oxygen and nutrients.

Delays in treatment are extremely dangerous and can result in life-threatening injuries to the mother and baby. Injuries from mistakes made by professionals may need to be investigated as potential acts of negligence.

During birth

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is a serious brain condition which can be caused by a lack of oxygen to the baby during birth. It is categorised into four types based on the area of brain that is affected: spastic, athetoid, ataxic and mixed cerebral palsy.

For some cases, the cause of cerebral palsy is unknown as it could have occurred as a genetic defect or an infection in the womb. However, cases can occur when mistakes have been made during the birth or shortly after, resulting in a shortage of oxygen to the baby. In these instances, medical negligence is likely to have taken place and a claim for compensation could be made.

Forceps Delivery or Ventouse Delivery

Complications during birth could result in the baby becoming distressed or the mother being unable to deliver the baby without assistance. If this scenario occurs, forceps or a ventouse suction cup placed on the baby’s head can be used to aid the delivery. These methods do carry risks and can lead to injuries to the baby’s face including bleeding, nerve damage and skull fractures. These injuries can occur if the wrong equipment is used and may have serious consequences.

Episiotomy and Second or Third Degree Tears

This is where a surgical incision is made when it is thought that the baby is in distress or the mother’s skin would tear if the incision was not made. It should make delivery easy but if performed incorrectly, or not performed at all when required, it can cause second or third degree tearing or incontinence. Complications or mistakes can also lead to life-threatening infections and blood loss.

Erb’s Palsy or vaginal delivery of a large baby, a complication known as shoulder dystocia

The size of the baby should be monitored throughout the pregnancy to ensure that a vaginal delivery is safe. The delivery of a baby that is too large can result in the baby becoming stuck.

This is a very serious situation that can result in death, permanent damage to the baby’s shoulders and nerve trauma causing the arm or hand to be paralysed. If this happens as a result of failures by medical professionals to plan ahead for the birth or perform the correct manoeuvres during the delivery, investigations could prove a case of negligence.

If you feel that you or a member of your family has been affected by medical error during a pregnancy or birth, then you should contact a negligence expert to discuss your claim. Here at Fletchers we are experienced in dealing with cases of medical negligence and handle one in 10 claims made in the UK. We can advise you on whether you have a case and will support you if you decide to pursue legal action.

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