There is a lot to worry about when you are expecting a baby. But what most expectant mothers think about the most during pregnancy is how to stay healthy and safe, so their baby does too. Pregnant women rely heavily on their doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals to help keep them as free from risks as possible. One risk that is rare, but serious, is uterine rupture. While it doesn’t happen to very many women, only about one percent of pregnant women, it has potentially life-threatening consequences for both mother and baby when it does occur.
What is Uterine Rupture?
Uterine rupture is a very serious medical condition in which the wall of the uterus tears during pregnancy. When this happens, it’s crucial that the expectant mother and baby receive the proper emergency medical attention. The mother may hemorrhage while the baby can suffer brain damage and stillbirth.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Uterine Rupture?
There are numerous symptoms that indicate a pregnant woman may have uterine rupture. Some of those include:
- Abnormal abdominal pain
- Excessive vaginal bleeding
- Sudden sharp pain at the site of an old uterine scar
- Sudden sharp pain between contractions
- Contractions that slow down or become less intense
- Bulging under the pubic bone
- Baby’s head recessing into the birth canal
- Uterine muscle tone loss
- Low blood pressure, rapid heart rate, and shock in the mother
- Abnormal heart rate in the baby
Why Does Uterine Rupture Occur?
During the intensity of labor, there is pressure that builds up as the infant begins to move through the birth canal. This pressure can result in the tearing of the mother’s uterus. Typically, these tears occur at the site of a scar left from a previous C-section scar. When a uterine rupture happens, the contents of the uterus, including the baby, may empty into the mother’s abdomen.
In nearly all case of uterine rupture, the tear in the uterus happens to women who have had C-sections with previous pregnancies. A C-section leaves a scar in the uterus that can become weakened with each subsequent pregnancy. While a C-section scar is the most common culprit of uterine rupture, there are other surgeries that can also leave uterine scars, like having fibroids removed. Additionally, women who have sustained injuries in car or other types of accidents, those who had to undergo an external cephalic version due to the baby being in a breech position, or if a doctor misused forceps in a previous delivery.
In very rare cases, a woman who has never been affected by any of the above circumstances may suffer a uterine rupture. When this happens, it’s usually in women who are carrying multiple babies, who have had multiple pregnancies, or whose labor has been prolonged.
When Is Uterine Rupture Caused by Medical Negligence?
Tears in the uterine wall are not usually caused by medical negligence or error in and of themselves (though a failure to perform a C-section in a timely manner may be). Rather, they most commonly happen when a doctor fails to inform an expectant mother about the risks of sustaining the injury, or they fail to follow proper monitoring during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. When mother and child do not receive the accepted standard of care, they can be seriously injured.
As a patient, an expectant mother is entitled to receive the accepted standard of care from her doctor. Anytime that standard is breached, and an injury occurs, it is considered medical malpractice. In the case of a uterine rupture, if doctors do not properly inform patients of the risks associated with their situation, or they don’t properly monitor mother and baby, or they delay a C-section too long, or fail to diagnose and treat the rupture promptly, then medical negligence could be to blame for any injuries to the mother or baby.
Medical Malpractice and Uterine Rupture
Going through a pregnancy, labor, and delivery can be challenging in the best of circumstances. When there are added risks, it can become increasingly complicated.
If you or someone you love has suffered uterine rupture, or any other birth injury, and it may have been due to medical error or neglect, you need legal representation to protect the rights of your family and secure financial compensation you are entitled to.
The nationally recognized birth injury attorneys at Ross Feller Casey have an unmatched record of litigating birth injury cases, including those that involve uterine ruptures. Let Ross Feller Casey help you with your birth injury case. Contact our offices today for your free case evaluation.