Sometimes a C-section is planned well in advance of a delivery. Other times, it isn’t apparent that a C-section is needed until labor is well underway. Either way, it’s your medical provider’s responsibility to make sure that when a C-section is needed, it’s done without delay.
There’s been a lot of pushback in recent years against C-section deliveries in the U.S., with many experts suggesting that they’re done far too quickly and too often – especially in initial pregnancies. In 2021, for example, 32.1% of all live births in this country were by C-section. Unfortunately, when a doctor hesitates too long to make the call for a C-section because they don’t want to be accused of contributing to the statistics, the results can be tragic.
When are C-sections necessary?
Vaginal births are generally easier on the mother’s body, so they’re always preferred. However, C-sections can be the only rational call when:
- The baby is stuck in a breech position
- The baby is showing signs of distress on fetal monitoring devices
- The mother has placenta previa (where the placenta partially blocks the birth canal)
- Placenta abrupta (where the placenta suddenly tears away from the uterine wall)
- The mother is carrying multiples (twins, triplets or more)
- The mother has developed a serious medical condition, like preeclampsia
- Labor has stalled for some reason, such as the baby’s size compared to the mother’s pelvis
- The umbilical cord prolapses (slips through the cervix before the baby is born), which can cut off the baby’s oxygen supply
Doctors know to look for all these signs when a mother is in labor. Mistakes can be made when fetal monitoring is insufficient (or misinterpreted), or when doctors fail to notice obvious signs of trouble, like meconium staining. Communication errors between healthcare providers or a breakdown in the exchange of information between labor and delivery nurses and the doctor can also lead to unnecessary delays.
If you believe that your baby suffered a serious birth injury because of a delayed C-section, find out more about your legal options. The compensation you may receive can help pay for therapies, additional medical treatment and a lifetime of care.