Are Delayed C-Sections More Dangerous?

Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of S. Randall "Randy" Hood with McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC.

Are Delayed C-Sections More Dangerous?
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Cesarean sections or “C-sections” are a method of delivering a baby through a surgical cut in the mother’s abdomen rather than traditional birth. According to Birth Injury Help Center, approximately 1 in 3 births in the U.S. occur via C-section. C-sections are typically used when the mother and/or baby are under a dangerous amount of stress during the birthing process to prevent unnecessary injury to the mother or child, and/or to mitigate certain risks that develop during pregnancy. C-sections may be scheduled in advance as a preemptive way to protect the mother or baby or used as an emergency response to an unexpectedly dangerous birth.

Emergency C-sections are decided by the doctor.

While a mother may request a C-section, it is ultimately up to the doctor to decide when and if a C-section is necessary. If a C-section was not scheduled in advance and the need for an emergency C-section arises, it is the doctor’s and treating medical staff’s responsibility to recognize the need and make sure the C-section is performed as soon as possible. 

Waiting to perform a C-section can have serious consequences for the mother, child, and their family, and in some cases may even be fatal. If a C-section is delayed too long and a birth injury occurs as a result, the medical staff might be liable. While most doctors and medical professionals are highly trained individuals committed to the health and wellbeing of their patients, when a mistake or malpractice occurs in the labor and delivery process, the consequences can be serious and far-reaching.

Delayed C-sections can result in brain injuries.

One of the primary risks of a delayed C-section is the risk of brain injury. Specifically, a baby that suffers from a delayed C-section may experience intrapartum asphyxia or hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), which can lead in some cases to cerebral palsy. 

Brain damage due to oxygen deprivation is one of the most dangerous birth injuries. It can occur in a variety of ways during the birth process, but it often arises when medical staff fails to pay attention to the fetal monitoring strips that track the infant’s distress prior to birth. Failing to notice when the infant is experiencing physical distress before delivery is another common cause for delayed C-sections and can result in oxygen deprivation and further birth injuries.

Doctors are required to screen in advance for health conditions that could make traditional delivery dangerous.

Similarly, if a doctor fails to note a pregnant mother’s existing conditions that could make traditional delivery risky, and/or does not schedule a C-section in advance like another doctor would reasonably do in their situation, the doctor may be liable for any injuries that occur as a result of the delayed C-section. 

Health conditions that may inspire a doctor to recommend a preemptive C-section include diabetes, obesity, infection, a history of risky pregnancies, and more. These conditions should be diagnosed and monitored as soon as possible throughout the pregnancy, as well as by the delivering doctor and medical staff.

If your baby suffered a birth or brain injury as a result of medical malpractice, you may be eligible to file a claim.

If you or your baby were injured due to a delayed C-section or another form of labor and delivery malpractice, it’s important to note that there may be options for recovery. A medical malpractice claim or lawsuit allows the injured mother or mother of the injured baby to seek compensation for a variety of damages including medical bills, lost wages, therapy, and even ongoing support for their child if a brain or other injury is likely to affect their future academic, employment, and relationship opportunities. 

However, medical malpractice claims can be extremely difficult to litigate and typically require the testimonies of expert medical witnesses, so it is highly recommended to reach out to a medical malpractice attorney if you or your child suffered a birth injury. These attorneys typically offer free consultations and even work on contingency, which means clients don’t pay for their services unless and until they win their case. This allows injured and recovering families to focus on healing rather than worrying about any additional stress.

To learn more about the risks associated with delayed C-sections, or for help investigating your own claim, reach out to an experienced birth injury attorney in your area.

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