The lasting effects of a traumatic labour or birth

11 September 2012

Solicitors at Worthingtons provide advice for women who have sustained injuries during a traumatic labour or birth on when they may consider taking a personal injury claim.

The majority of women look forward to childbirth with a mix of excitement and some trepidation, and in most cases delivery is uneventful and both mother and baby are happy and healthy.

In some circumstances however, particularly during a natural delivery, a maternal injury can occur where the mother pushes and/or is advised to push before the body is ready to do so. This can result in serious tears to the perineal area which can have devastating and long- lasting consequences of both a physical and psychological nature.  

Tears can be minor in nature and cause only a little pain and discomfort. However in some cases, tears can be much more serious and extend into the anal sphincter muscle, causing not only serious pain but also long-term problems including incontinence, particularly if they go undetected and untreated for substantial periods of time.  Third or fourth degree tears i.e. those which cause damage to the anal sphincter can result in faecal incontinence and a possible reliance on a colostomy bag.  

It is important to note that a tear is not in itself indicative of medical negligence, particularly following a traumatic delivery, or where forceps are required.  In order to prevent such tears occurring, or in an attempt to minimise the damage that can result, delivery should be closely monitored and steps such as an episiotomy taken to try and avoid a tear being sustained.  For that reason a thorough examination should take place by a qualified midwife or nurse following delivery and certainly prior to discharge.

In the event that a tear has been sustained, it is crucial that it is repaired immediately. The longer it goes undetected, the more serious the injury and the more difficult the remedial or reparatory surgery becomes.  Surgery is not always possible, due to either the extent of the damage or occasionally the psychological trauma caused to the mother during delivery.

If you have suffered a tear during childbirth, you should consult your GP/health visitor immediately.  Worthingtons Solicitors have dealt with a number of cases where mothers have sustained injury during one of the most precious moments of their lives, and have been successful in securing compensation in such cases.

If you have a query in relation to perineal tears or any other injury sustained during childbirth please contact Personal Injury Solicitors Claire McDaid or Nikki McConnell to discuss the matter in further detail.

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