Birth Injuries

C-Section Dangers: Rates Vary Wildly from Hospital to Hospital

September 13, 2021 by Carrie Capouellez
C-Section Dangers

Every year, approximately one out of every three babies born in America is delivered via a cesarean section, commonly known as a C-section. This amounts to nearly 1.3 million children delivered by C-section each year, making it the most common major surgery performed in the U.S. Although many children are born by C-section, the commonality of this procedure varies wildly from hospital to hospital, making a woman’s choice of hospital for delivery incredibly important. Hospitals even within the same city operate at very different rates – some reporting lower than 20% and others reporting over 40%. The rates of this type of delivery matter because of C-section dangers.

Selecting the right hospital for delivering your child is incredibly important. Pregnant patients need to carefully research all of the hospitals in their area to learn which ones have the lowest C-section rates. Regardless of our best research and birth plans, sometimes you and/or your baby can experience complications during the birthing process. While everyone talks about how special giving birth can be, in some cases unexpected and traumatic events take place. Patients should always feel free to ask questions and voice their concerns with their doctors and other medical providers about undergoing a C-section delivery.

Cesarean sections (C-sections) are more common than ever before.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, the national Cesarean birth rate is approximately 29%. Because of the risks associated with C-sections, it is incredibly important that patients talk openly with their physicians before delivery. Sometimes C-sections are necessary, but many are not. Physicians that put patients at risk by performing unnecessary C-sections need to be held accountable for the injuries they cause.

Common C-Section Dangers

Although C-sections are incredibly common, like all surgeries they come with a great amount of risk. In the short term, women who undergo C-sections are at risk for developing infections, excessive bleeding, development of blood clots, bowel problems, and even death. However, the risk of C-section dangers can last much longer, including an increased risk of hysterectomy complications, increased risk of uterine rupture during additional pregnancies, and urinary problems, bowel problems, and chronic pelvic pain, among others.

Increased Risk of Hysterectomy Complications

According to at least one study, C-sections could come with an additional long-term risk: a higher risk of hysterectomy complications. Hysterectomies are surgeries in which the uterus is removed from the body. These invasive medical procedures are the second most common surgery in the U.S. behind C-sections.

The study found that of women who gave birth vaginally, 4.4% required additional surgery within 30 days of their hysterectomy. Of women who gave birth via C-section, researchers found 6.2% required an additional surgery; 6.8% of women who gave birth via C-Section two or more times required reoperation. This represents a 31% increased risk of hysterectomy complications for women who have delivered via C-section once and a 35% increased risk for women who have delivered via C-section two or more times.

Risk of C-Sections Being Performed Without Anesthesia

In at least one case, a new mother filed a lawsuit against her obstetrician for performing an emergency C-section before her being put under any anesthesia. While the pregnant woman was given an epidural for pain, she remained in labor into the following day. Since the mother’s blood pressure began to drop and her baby’s heart rate could not be found, to get the baby out and avoid any oxygen deprivation, the obstetrician opted to perform an emergency C-section despite the anesthesiologist never responding and thus not being available. One might never expect C-Section dangers to include having an invasive surgical procedure accomplished without anesthesia!

The Dangers of Caesarian Delay

The prevention of complications during childbirth begins long before delivery. Physicians should review a patient’s health history to assess the likelihood of a high-risk delivery early in the pregnancy. Additionally, physicians should carefully monitor the baby throughout the pregnancy to ensure the child is growing properly and to look for any health problems that might require intervention.

While some complications during childbirth cannot be anticipated, most healthcare providers are trained to handle unexpected emergencies. However, if a physician or other medical provider fails to properly monitor the mother and/or the baby during childbirth, they can easily miss signs of distress leading to a Caesarian delay and an increase of C-section dangers.

Causes of an Emergency C-Section Can Include:

  • The baby’s blood supply becomes blocked, which can cause birth hypoxia
  • The placenta is blocking the cervix
  • The baby’s shoulders get stuck behind the mother’s pelvic bone
  • Heart monitoring reveals the baby is in distress
  • Natural labor does not progress

When C-sections are delayed, they can threaten the life of both the mother and the child and can cause injuries that require a lifetime of medical care. Some of the most common injuries from Caesarian delays include brain injuries, cerebral palsy, shoulder dystocia, and brachial plexus injuries. These birth injuries can be devastating for a family and often come with a substantial financial burden.

VBAC: The Risk of Natural Births Following Previous C-Sections

After delivering by Cesarean section, when women become pregnant again, they rightfully have concerns about vaginal birth after Cesarean section (VBAC). A VBAC (vaginal birth after C-section) is the vaginal delivery of a baby by a woman who previously had a C-section. In recent years, VBACs have been attempted on fewer than 20% of women who previously had C-sections. 

VBACs increase the risk of serious health complications and emergencies. Because of the severity of a uterine rupture, emergency C-Sections must be performed within two to 15 minutes of the rupture. This occurs most commonly when labor induction drugs are used when the mother is 35 years of age or older, and when the mother has had multiple C-Sections before delivery. Due to the serious risk of uterine rupture, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) recommends VBAC only in very low-risk cases.

Once you have had a Cesarean delivery, you will have a scar on your uterus extending along the site of the surgical incision. For most women, the uterine scar is horizontal and on the lower part of the uterus. The scar on your uterus can be prone to separate and rupture during a subsequent vaginal delivery when the forces of uterine contractions stretch and push on the scar. When too much pressure is exerted on the uterine scar, it can separate and rupture. When the uterus ruptures, the baby and/or the placenta can be expelled into the abdominal cavity. Then, the baby is completely outside the uterus, receives no oxygen, and must be delivered on an emergency basis by C-section within minutes. Every second counts when the baby is free-floating outside of the uterus. The rupture of the uterus poses big risks to the mother as well. The uterine rupture causes internal bleeding in the mother, which can lead to maternal death. 

Philadelphia Caesarian Birth Injury Attorneys 

If you suffered an injury as the result of a delivery mistake or C-section dangers in a Philadelphia hospital, you likely have many questions. The experienced lawyers for delivery mistakes at Lopez McHugh LLP can help you understand your legal options and pursue compensation on your behalf. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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