About one in three infants in the United States is delivered by Cesarean section, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That statistic starkly contrasts to global C-section rates, which are much lower, at around 19 percent.
There are a couple of reasons for these higher C-section rates. The first is the pervasiveness of elective C-section procedures, which aren’t always an option in many other countries. The other, more common factor driving increased C-section surgeries is the prevalence of doctors providing more aggressive medical care. One study from 2009 found that states with higher caps on medical malpractice settlements also had higher rates of C-section.
If an unnecessary or poorly executed C-section delivery left your child seriously injured, get help immediately from a Colorado medical injury lawyer.
Why Does Your Doctor Decide to Perform a C-section?
Generally speaking, during labor, doctors elect to perform a C-section to either address a perceived problem with the delivery, or to prevent a problem. Some of the more common issues that can arise before or during labor that might compel your obstetrician to opt for a C-section include:
- Placenta previa – Simply put, this is a condition where the placenta covers the opening of the mother’s cervix, preventing a normal delivery from taking place. This usually occurs in older mothers, smokers, and those who’ve had a C-section before. The most obvious symptom is painless vaginal bleeding in the second or third trimester and can be confirmed with an ultrasound.
- Placental abruption – This is what happens when the placenta disconnects from the womb. Factors that contribute to this condition include smoking, preeclampsia, trauma, and an earlier C-section. Symptoms can include vaginal bleeding, abdominal and back pain, and low blood pressure in the last trimester. Again, an ultrasound scan can confirm this complication.
- Uterine rupture – This tear in the uterine wall typically takes place during labor, and is evidenced by a change in the infant’s heart rate. The mother may also experience bleeding, sudden abdominal pain, and an accelerated pulse.
- Breech position – In about 4 percent of pregnancies, the baby will be situated feet first, which is known as a breech position. A C-section is the only way to deliver a breech baby.
- Cord prolapse – When the umbilical cord presents with or before the fetus during labor, its referred to as a cord prolapse. This is typically caused by a tear in the amniotic sac.
How Can a C-section Go Wrong?
Like any surgical procedure, things can go quickly go wrong during a C-section procedure. Risks to the baby include:
- Breathing problems – An infant delivered by C-section frequently emerges with respiratory issues. Most of the time, these resolve with a few days.
- Low APGAR scores – When a baby is born, they’re immediately evaluated by the nursing staff and graded on an APGAR scale. APGAR scores the newborn’s health based on five factors: appearance, pulse, grimace, activity, and respiration. Babies delivered via C-section are up to 50 percent more likely to have low APGAR scores.
- Surgical injuries – Finally, infants can be injured during the surgical procedure. The same tools doctors use to save your baby can hurt them as well. These injuries can be minor, such as a bruise from a forceps. But they can also be very serious, such as a cut that severs the child’s spinal cord.
Complications that arise during pregnancy aren’t always easily recognized. When a crisis emerges during labor, the chances of a mistake increase exponentially. If you’ve experienced a problem before or during labor, and a C-section left your baby seriously injured, call the experienced Colorado medical malpractice lawyers at Burg Simpson Colorado at 303-792-5595 or fill out our Free Case Evaluation Form now so we can evaluate your case.