For some women, labor progresses naturally; however, many women need some form of assistance to move things along. This is why obstetricians are very familiar with labor-inducing drugs and birthing assistance tools. Unfortunately, obstetricians sometimes make bad decisions or fail to monitor the situation carefully and birth injuries can occur, as well as potentially life-threatening problems for the mother.
One situation that can be harmful to the baby and to the mother is uterine rupture. This occurs when a tear goes through all the uterine layers causing the uterus to rupture. Although rare, uterine rupture is real and is a very dangerous labor and delivery complication.
Causes of Uterine Rupture
Women who have previously undergone a cesarean section (C-section) and attempt to have a vaginal birth after a C-section (referred to as a VBAC) are at risk for a uterine rupture. Also, women who have had any type of uterine surgery or removal of fibroids are also at risk. However, there are some cases where there are no risk factors present, but uterine rupture occurs because of a medical mistake, including the following:
- Labor-inducing drugs. Pitocin (a synthetic form of oxytocin, a hormone that causes contractions during labor and delivery) is commonly used to help labor progress. Unfortunately, this drug can cause strong contractions of the uterus. When a uterus is overstimulated and strained, it can rupture.
- Forceps assisted delivery. Sometimes a baby’s heart rate will drop when he or she is almost out of the birth canal and a doctor may use forceps (a surgical tong) to help get the baby out. If the doctor doesn’t insert the forceps correctly, a tear in the uterine wall may occur which could cause uterine rupture.
- External cephalic version (ECV). This is a procedure done on expectant mothers whose babies are breech near term. Babies need to exit the birthing canal head first, so if a baby is still bottom down at 37 weeks, it is considered a breech position. Sometimes obstetricians will perform an ECV to get the baby to turn—trying to manually manipulate the baby’s position. Unfortunately, sometimes this type of procedure can actually do more harm than good. For instance, someone might not be an appropriate candidate or a doctor may do the procedure wrong or apply too much force, causing trauma to the uterus.
Poor monitoring and care during pregnancy and labor and delivery can also contribute to a uterine rupture. Sadly, when the uterus ruptures, a mother may be at risk for life-threatening bleeding and a hysterectomy, and a child may be at risk for serious birth injuries due to oxygen deprivation.
If your child suffered from cerebral palsy, brain damage, or other serious birth injuries as a result of medical negligence, please call our office today for a complimentary consultation.