Causes and Types of Common Birth Injuries to Mothers

June 21, 2023

Having a baby can be an amazing experience. Still, many expectant mothers have mixed feelings as their delivery date approaches. This is because childbirth includes certain risks. Even with improved health care, some women still experience birth injuries, which can be from natural causes or the negligence of health care providers.

Generally, birth injuries to mothers can be psychological or physical. Some mothers suffer physical injuries like vaginal tears, ruptured uterus, and postpartum hemorrhage. Others may experience psychological issues like postpartum depression and PTSD.

Common Types of Birth Injuries to Mothers

With the different types of delivery available to expecting mothers, you need to understand the risk associated with each birth type and the chances of birth injuries.

Here are some types of birth injuries women may experience:

Physical Injuries

Some common physical birth injuries include:

Vaginal Tears: Women who opt for vaginal delivery may experience vaginal tears. However, it's most common in first-time mothers. A vaginal tear occurs when the vaginal walls fail to stretch appropriately to accommodate the baby's head or when the baby's head is too large. Also, some vaginal tears are more complicated than others. While some only affect the skin around the vagina, some affect the tissues and muscles. Hence, simple and less complex tears can heal within a few weeks, but most major tears may require surgery. You can ask your doctor for tips on how to avoid tearing during childbirth.

Ruptured Uterus: This is a rare birth injury, but it can seriously affect the mother and baby. A ruptured uterus will cause the baby and the placenta to shift into the mother's abdomen during labor. Women with a history of uterine surgery or C-section are more prone to experience a ruptured uterus. This is because the scar on their uterus can weaken and rupture.

Postpartum Hemorrhage: Postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) is excessive and uncontrollable bleeding after childbirth. Most PPH happens when the uterus does not contract strongly enough after delivery and after the body expels the placenta.

Psychological Injuries

Women can experience psychological injuries like postpartum depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a difficult delivery. These two conditions have some similarities but are distinct.

Postpartum Depression: Some women suffer postpartum depression after giving birth. It's a kind of depression that causes emotions like persistent sadness, emptiness, or frequent crying. Hormonal or physical changes, emotional adjustments, and other factors can lead to postpartum depression.

If you experience symptoms like thoughts of harming yourself or committing suicide, anxiety, depression, or guilt after childbirth, you may have postpartum depression. You need to seek medical care from medical professionals, as this condition can affect your well-being and that of your child.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): This is also referred to as postpartum PTSD or birth trauma, and it affects people who have witnessed or experienced traumatic events. You may suffer post-traumatic stress disorder after a traumatic birth process.

Some events that can trigger postpartum PTSD are high pain levels during delivery, prolonged or difficult labor, emergency cesarean section, and severe complications during childbirth.

Long-term Health Implications of Birth Injuries to Mothers

Some birth injuries are unavoidable, while others result from health practitioners' negligence during labor. Fortunately, victims of such medical malpractice and mismanagement can seek help from birth injury lawyers.

Birth injuries to mothers may have long-term implications. A birth injury can affect your mental health, personal relationships, and quality of life. It can also lead to other long-term issues, such as fecal and urinary incontinence, sexual dysfunction, chronic pain, and an increased risk of injury in future pregnancy and delivery.

Common Causes of Birth Injuries to Mothers

Several factors can cause birth injuries to mothers, such as:

Medical Mismanagement During Labor and Delivery

One of the causes of birth injury is mismanagement on the part of healthcare professionals. Sometimes, doctors make mistakes during labor and delivery, which can lead to birth injuries to the mother, including:

  • Failure to spot and manage fetal distress: If signs of fetal distress, like abnormal heart rate patterns, are not identified and addressed immediately, it can adversely affect the mother and child.
  • Inappropriate use of labor-inducing medications: Administering the wrong doses of drugs to induce or boost labor can result in complications, like uterine rupture and excessive bleeding.
  • Improper use of delivery instruments: Using delivery instruments like forceps or vacuum extraction wrongly during delivery can cause birth injuries to the mother. They can lead to lacerations or damage to pelvic floor muscles.
  • Delay in performing a cesarean section (C-section): If a doctor fails to perform a C-section when they should, it can affect the mother and the baby.

Negligence in Prenatal Care

Prenatal care refers to regular check-ups and monitoring during pregnancy to spot and address potential risks. In some cases, poor prenatal care can also contribute to birth injuries in mothers.

Some examples of negligence in prenatal care include:

  • Failing to identify and manage pre-existing medical conditions that increase the risk of complications during delivery.
  • Failing to identify and treat maternal infections, like group B streptococcus or urinary tract infections.
  • Ineffective monitoring of fetal growth and development may result in failure to plan for a high-risk delivery.

Defective Drugs and Medical Devices

The use of defective drugs and medical devices during pregnancy, labor, or delivery can trigger birth injuries. Prescribing drugs with unknown risks and negative side effects can also stimulate adverse reactions in the mother.

Additionally, using defective drugs and medical devices during delivery can cause injuries like vaginal tears to the mother.

Legal Rights and Recourse for Birth Injuries to Mothers

If you've experienced a birth injury because of medical negligence, mismanagement, or defective medications, you may have the legal right to seek compensation for the damages you've suffered. A birth injury lawyer can help assess the situation and provide guidance on the appropriate course of action.

You can speak with our experienced and compassionate birth injury attorney at McEldrew Purtell to discover how we can help you get justice and the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.