Why Do You Need An Emergency C-Section?


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A Cesarean delivery, also called a C-section, is a surgical procedure done when a vaginal birth has complications that endanger the mother, baby, or both. An incision is made in the mother's abdomen and uterus to deliver the baby during the procedure. Many C-sections are scheduled for various reasons. For example, suppose the baby is in an abnormal position (transverse or breech presentation) or it is unusually big (called fetal macrosomia). In those cases, and many others, doctors are likely to recommend that a scheduled C-section be performed to limit risks to the mother and baby.

While many C-sections are scheduled, sometimes it becomes necessary for doctors to deliver babies quickly because there are complications that arise during vaginal deliveries. In these cases, the baby must be delivered as fast as possible. Delaying can lead to catastrophic injuries, which may be considered a viable birth injury claim for the parents.

What Are The Reasons An Emergency C-Section Is Necessary?

Various reasons can arise during labor and delivery that make it necessary to have an emergency C-section. In most emergency C-section situations, there isn’t anything that your doctor can do to change the need for surgery. It is typically the case that the baby isn’t progressing through the planned delivery plan or is in some distress. An emergency C-section may be warranted when the mother has a serious health concern and waiting for progress isn’t feasible.

Here are several reasons that the need for an emergency C-section may arise:

Baby’s Position

Sometimes, the baby’s position may be a concern at the beginning of labor, so an external cephalic version is performed. This is a procedure in which a doctor places their hands on the mother’s belly and tries to manually turn the baby. When this procedure is unsuccessful or seems successful, but the baby turns back around to a breech (feet first) or transverse (stretched out sideways) position at the last minute, it may become necessary to perform an emergency C-section.

Extended Labor

Labor that goes on longer than what is considered normal can lead to health problems for mothers and babies. Prolonged labor is the most common situation that leads to an emergency C-section. When labor goes on for an extended period, doctors may decide that waiting for a vaginal delivery is too risky. Prolonged labor may happen because contractions are present, but they aren’t moving things along, cervical dilation isn’t happening as it should, or labor starts but then stalls for some reason.

Exhaustion or Distress

When the mother or baby becomes distressed, an emergency C-section may need to be performed. This can happen when the mother has been pushing for a long time, but it isn’t enough to deliver the baby. The doctor may have already tried using a vacuum-assisted delivery, but it didn’t work. The baby will become distressed, and its heart rate will be too slow or too fast. In those cases, doctors may decide that it is safer for the mother and baby to perform an emergency C-section.

Umbilical Cord Problems

If the umbilical cord gets tangled, compressed, or prolapsed (tries to come out before the baby), it’s very likely that an emergency C-section will need to be performed. Problems with the umbilical cord can potentially cut off the blood supply to the baby. Similarly, the baby may not get enough oxygen when the umbilical cord is tangled or kinked.

Placental Problems

If there are problems with the placenta, like placental abruption, a condition in which some or all of the placenta detaches from the womb’s lining, the baby may not be getting the oxygen and nutrients it needs while still in the womb. This is cause for an emergency C-section.

Womb Tear

Though very rare, there are cases in which the increased pressure on the mother’s body can cause the uterus to tear or rupture. A mother with previous C-sections is at greater risk for a womb tear than mothers without. If the uterus tears, an emergency C-section needs to be performed immediately.

Health Condition or Infection

Doctors may decide that an emergency C-section is necessary when the mother has a health condition or infection that is discovered after labor begins. For example, if a herpes infection in the vaginal area suddenly becomes active, it can be harmful to the baby if delivered vaginally.

Additionally, if the mother’s blood pressure or heart rate spikes, a doctor may decide that an emergency C-section is the best option for the mother’s health.

What To Do If Your Emergency C-Section Caused Harm To Your Baby

Medical mistakes and negligence cause many birth injuries during labor and delivery. However, a delay in performing an emergency C-section is the most common cause of birth injuries related to medical malpractice. In addition, a negligent delay in performing a C-section is directly linked to the cause of many types of brain injuries and conditions, including cerebral palsy.

Having a child injured due to a medical professional's negligence is devastating to families. If your baby suffered injuries because your doctor delayed an emergency C-section, you might be able to file a birth injury lawsuit. While financial compensation cannot reverse the damage your baby sustained, it can relieve the financial burden of medical expenses related to your child’s care.

The legal team at Ross Feller Casey is experienced with birth injury cases like yours, and we are ready to help you seek justice for your family. No parent should have to handle this alone. We have medical doctors right on our staff to navigate the complicated nature of delayed emergency C-section cases. And we have the knowledge, resources, and unmatched track record you want in your corner.

Contact Ross Feller Casey today for a free review of your case with one of our experienced birth injury lawyers. There is no charge to you until we win your case.

Disclaimer: Ross Feller Casey, LLP provides legal advice only after an attorney-client relationship is formed. Our website is an introduction to the firm and does not create a relationship between our attorneys and clients. An attorney-client relationship is formed only after a written agreement is signed by the client and the firm. Because every case is unique, the description of awards and summary of cases successfully handled are not intended to imply or guarantee that same success in other cases. Ross Feller Casey, LLP represents catastrophically injured persons and their families in injury and wrongful death cases, providing legal representation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.