When there is a complication in childbirth that leads to a birth injury for the baby, there is often intense scrutiny about the baby’s health and well-being – as there should be. The birth trauma that some women experience, however, after a difficult childbirth is real, and often left unaddressed.
Last summer, we covered the USA Today investigative report which revealed that hospitals know how to protect mothers who are giving birth, but they just are not doing it. Their research found that the United States is the “most dangerous place to give birth in the developed world,” as each year more than 50,000 mothers are severely injured during or after childbirth and about 700 die.
This data is backed up by a 2017 report published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Researchers found that about one-third of all mothers experience birth trauma, and that women with negative experiences during their first birth had fewer subsequent children and a longer interval to the second baby. The study found the following in regard to birth trauma:
“Women felt that care providers prioritised their own agendas over the needs of the woman. This could result in unnecessary intervention as care providers attempted to alter the birth process to meet their own preferences. In some cases, women became learning resources for hospital staff to observe or practice on. Women’s own embodied knowledge about labour progress and fetal wellbeing was disregarded in favour of care provider’s clinical assessments. Care providers used lies and threats to coerce women into complying with procedures. In particular, these lies and threats related to the wellbeing of the baby. Women also described actions that were abusive and violent. For some women these actions triggered memories of sexual assault.”
Another study published in the Archives of Women’s Mental Health explored and quantified perceptions and experiences of women with a traumatic childbirth experience with the goal of identifying areas for prevention and to help midwives and obstetricians improve woman-centered care. It was a retrospective survey of 2192 women who self-reported as having a traumatic childbirth experience. The most common responses the research team received were:
- Lack and/or loss of control [over one’s self or experience] (54.6%)
- Fear for baby’s health/life (49.9%)
- High intensity of pain/physical discomfort (47.4%)
- Communicate/explain [what is happening/will happen better] (39.1%)
- Listen to me [more] (36.9%)
- Support me (more/better) emotionally/practically (29.8%)
Many of the survey respondents believe that in many cases their trauma could have been reduced or prevents by better communication and support by their caregiver or if they themselves had asked for or refused interventions.
Women trust their doctors to take care of them to provide preventive prenatal care, to monitor their health and the health of their babies. Not all complications can be known and prevented, but when an obstetrician or midwife’s actions do not comport with the accepted standard of care and cause injury, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim. McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC represents mothers and their families in obstetrical malpractice claims involving birth traumas, birth injuries, and wrongful deaths.
If you have suffered a serious injury in childbirth, or your baby suffered a birth injury or complication due to the negligent actions of a physician or hospital in North or South Carolina, the birth injury attorneys at McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC are able to fight on your behalf for justice and compensation. We will evaluate your case and review your options together. You can schedule a free consultation by calling our law office today at 803-327-7800 or sending us a request through our contact form.