Prolonged Labor Complications
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Did your pregnancy experience a prolonged labor complication that led to your child's birth defect? Our experienced law firm has successfully prosecuted defendants whose negligence caused an unexpected complication during labor or delivery.
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Prolonged labor is related to numerous birth injuries because doctors must make difficult decisions when complications threaten the child's well-being during delivery. During prolonged labor, first-time mothers usually experience complications during the first and second stages lasting more than 18 hours.
In cases involving labor complications, medical professionals may choose to administer drugs to assist with contractions, implement the use of forceps or vacuum devices, or elect to perform an emergency cesarean section to minimize the risk of serious injury to both mother and child.
Most injuries sustained during birth are minor and self-resolving without severe labor complications. However, improper use of medical equipment, the failure to correctly identify fetal distress, and inadequate post-birth monitoring could all cause or contribute to more severe injuries that impact the child's quality of life or can even result in permanent injury to the mother.
Chicago, IL Medical Malpractice Lawyers for Your Birth Injury Lawsuit
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC is a law firm representing the victims and families of those who have been injured due to medical malpractice or medical negligence. Our birth injury attorneys understand that your obstetrician or any other medical professional must act according to a standard of care when they treat patients. If not, the health care provider may face a lawsuit.
Our birth injury law firm thoroughly investigates medical malpractice cases to determine what caused the child's injury and holds all those responsible for their negligence legally and financially accountable. Call us or fill out a contact form today to speak with a birth injury attorney who can provide immediate legal advice on resolving a medical malpractice case.
Common Causes of Prolonged Labor
The medical team should be fully aware of the risk factors of prolonged labor where the baby's head could be in the birth canal for too long. Sometimes, labor complications arise from a failure to progress when a first-time mother is in labor for 18 hours or more.
Previous pregnancies can cause prolonged labor. For example, the medical staff might determine that a mother is in prolonged labor after 14 hours if she is given birth at least once before and has failed to deliver within two hours after the cervix is fully dilated.
Typically, mothers with subsequent pregnancies are usually in labor for 6 to 8 hours. Statistically, about 8% of mothers in labor often fail to progress when the birthing process takes longer than expected. Numerous reasons can cause prolonged labor.
Data shows that prolonged labor occurring during the latent phase (early on) might be tiring for the mother but typically does not lead to complications during labor and delivery. However, active phase prolonged labor often requires immediate medical assessment followed by intervention.
Common causes of prolonged labor include:
Cephalopelvic disproportion – A large baby, or a baby with a large head relative to the mother's pelvis or birth canal
- Uterine Rupture
- Induction of labor
- Epidural anesthesia
- Cervical dilation may be delayed
- A small birth canal or pelvis
- Placental abruption when the placenta prematurely detaches from the uterus wall
- Ineffective or inadequate contractions
- Delivering multiple babies
- Compression of the umbilical cord
- Fetal malposition – the fetus in the birth canal is in an abnormal position
- Emotional factors, including stress, worry, and fear
- Fetal distress
- Slow effacement
Administering pain medications to the mother can also contribute to weakening or slowing uterine contractions. If the doctor determines that the labor is not progressing, they usually advise the expecting mother to wait and relax.
In recent years, the American Pregnancy Association has advised expecting mothers to sleep, take a walk, or enjoy a warm bath to encourage movement in the birthing process.
Sometimes, the medical provider may administer labor-inducing drugs or recommend the expecting mother undergo a cesarean delivery to avoid further labor complications.
The Three Stages of Labor
The three stages of labor include contractions, childbirth, and placenta delivery. However, every labor is different, and the length of time or challenges of giving birth varies among mothers and pregnancies.
During the first stage of labor, the expecting mother will likely have frequent and increasingly intense contractions when the muscles in the womb (uterus) tighten and release rhythmically.
Regular contractions help soften, stretch, open and dilate the cervix, the narrow passageway between the mother's uterus and vagina. Moving through the cervix allows the baby to enter the birth canal.
The second stage of delivery begins when the cervix is fully dilated. At that point, the mother can push and give birth to the baby through the birth canal.
The third and final stage of labor requires delivering the afterbirth (placenta). The placenta provides the developing fetus the nourishment and oxygen necessary for life during pregnancy.
Risks Associated With Prolonged Labor
Prolonged labor contributes to most injuries sustained during delivery and is often evidence of a more severe complication preventing the child's delivery.
In the United States, about 8% of mothers experience prolonged labor during vaginal delivery leading to fetal distress and the need for cesarean section. In addition, any anomaly during prolonged labor places the mother and unborn child at risk of severe complications, including the child suffering cerebral palsy.
The child's head may be too large to fit through the birth canal, or the child may be in an awkward or breech position, making it difficult to pass through the canal.
The strength and frequency of uterine contractions may be common causes of prolonged labor. However, regardless of the reason for the arduous labor, the child is often at risk— the following are some common complications associated with prolonged labor.
- Asphyxia is defined as a lack of oxygen to the brain that is caused by some form of blockage such as a nuchal cord or damage to the placenta, which supplies the child with oxygen
- Low fetal heart rate and fetal distress
- Intrauterine infection
- Low maternal blood pressure
- Postpartum hemorrhage
- Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy
- Compression of the umbilical cord
- Premature detachment of the placenta from the uterine wall
Many obstetricians refer to the Friedman Curve as an invaluable tool to help identify normal and abnormal labor. Doctor Friedman created the tool to identify women at risk of vaginal delivery complications due to arrested delivery.
The curb identifies an arrest as a cervical dilation less than 1.2 cm/hour for first-time mothers (a woman's first pregnancy) and less than 1.5 cm/hour for women with previous pregnancies.
According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), the Friedman Curve might be a better way to identify labor complications instead of using the traditional definition of arrested delivery that implies that the labor and delivery process is halted completely.
Instead, prolonged labor refers to the process that has slowed significantly and is lasting longer than expected.
Medical Malpractice During the Delivery of Your Child
Complications caused by prolonged labor may require a doctor to order the use of forceps, a vacuum-assisted delivery, or an emergency cesarean section, depending on the circumstances and the complications. An emergency C-section can protect the health of the mother and child.
Improper use of extraction devices such as forceps and vacuum extractors is the primary cause of severe birth injuries, but staff's failure to properly monitor and test the child after birth to prevent long-term complications also constitutes medical malpractice.
It has been proven that most injuries that result in long-term conditions, such as brain injury, can be prevented with proper testing and monitoring. There is no reason a newborn child should suffer injuries that impact the rest of their life.
Some childbirth injuries that the baby can suffer during prolonged labor due to substandard medical care, head trauma, or inadequate oxygen include during vaginal delivery or cesarean section:
- Brachial Plexus Injury
- Facial Paralysis
- Brain Damage
- Intracranial hemorrhaging
- Postpartum hemorrhaging
- Cerebral Palsy
These can result in lifelong consequences and permanent injuries, creating years of pain and suffering and high medical expenses. In addition, many of these children will require lifelong health care and special education during their maturing years.
Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim for Prolonged Labor Injuries
Do you believe that your child suffered a birth injury because of your doctor's negligence? Do you believe that the hospital staff's medical malpractice led to your prolonged labor? At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, the personal injury attorneys can ensure you receive the financial compensation your family deserves for your damages.
Contact our attorneys today to schedule a free,no-obligation case consultation to discuss the merits of your monetary recovery claim. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our law office will create an attorney-client relationship.
Our birth injury attorneys will ensure quick results in resolving your case because we understand you need money now. In addition, we offer every client a "No Win/No-Fee" Guarantee on a contingency fee basis, meaning if we cannot secure monetary compensation on your behalf, you owe your injury lawyer nothing.
Our offices are located throughout the greater Chicago area, but we serve clients throughout the entire state of Illinois.
- National Institute of Health – Prolonged Labor & Premature Birth
- American College of Gynecologist – Optimizing Postpartum Care
Many medical malpractice cases have already been resolved through million-dollar settlements to ensure families have sufficient financial compensation for providing all the treatment and caring their child requires.