Chicago Attorneys for Birth Injuries from Delayed Cesarean Sections
Having a baby is stressful. You hope it will be easy, despite your friends and relatives telling you stories for the last nine months. You make plans with your obstetrician about the delivery, what to do if something goes wrong, whether to do a C-section and when.
If you believe that a C-section should have been done earlier and that your delivery was delayed improperly or negligently, you should get legal advice. Contact the Chicago birth injury attorneys of Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC right away. Our legal team is waiting at 312-346-8620 to review your medical records and give you our opinion on the best way to proceed.
What Is a Delayed C-Section?
Thanks to advances in ultrasound and other prenatal imaging techniques, C-sections, or Cesarean sections, are usually scheduled in advance of the baby’s delivery.
C-sections are usually performed when the baby is in the wrong position for a safe vaginal delivery (breech or lateral), the mother cannot safely deliver due to physical complications such as eclampsia or heart trouble, or there is a problem with the placenta. Conditions such as placenta previa, where the placenta is positioned in front of the baby’s head, can make vaginal delivery dangerous to the baby and the mother.
A delayed, or emergency, C-section, is done after a vaginal delivery has begun, but for some reason, the doctor determines that it is too dangerous to continue with a natural birth. Some reasons for this decision include:
- The baby’s heart rate drops or becomes irregular. Prior to delivery, the doctor will attach a small device to the baby’s head, called a fetal heartbeat monitor. Although it is normal for the baby’s heartbeat to change during labor, if it falls and does not return to normal, or becomes erratic, this is a sign of danger.
- Prolapsed or wrapped umbilical cords. For most of the pregnancy, the umbilical cord is much longer than the fetus and floats around it in the uterus. It is possible for the cord to be delivered before the baby (“prolapse”) or become wrapped around the baby’s neck. Most of the time this can be dealt with during the delivery, but if the blood supply to the baby is cut off for too long, a C-section is the only alternative.
- Labor is not progressing. Sometimes, it seems like babies just don’t want to be born. The uterus may lack muscle tone, or there may be metabolic issues. If labor goes on for too long, it is risky for both the mother and the baby.
There is a fine balance between allowing a vaginal delivery to proceed and making the decision for an emergency invasive procedure like a C-section. Doctors must weigh the benefit of a C-section against the knowledge that anything done to the mother, such as anesthetics and surgery, also impacts the baby. In this narrow window, mistakes can be made that impact the life of your child.
What Are the Effects of a Delayed C-Section?
Emergency C-sections are performed because something has compromised the health of the infant, the mother, or both. If the cord or placenta are involved, the infant’s blood and oxygen supply have been cut off. If the labor has gone on for too long, there are other, potentially serious effects.
- Cerebral palsy. This is a type of developmental disorder believed to be caused or worsened by a lack of oxygen during birth. When the umbilical cord is wrapped around the baby’s neck or trapped in the birth canal for too long during delivery, it increases the risk of cerebral palsy.
- Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy. A medical term literally meaning “lack of oxygen causing brain death,” this is a generalized condition that also happens when the infant’s brain is deprived of oxygen in the womb. If it occurs during delivery, the only way of relieving the cause is an immediate C-section.
- Brachial plexus. Sometimes called “Erb’s palsy,” this condition results from the arm and shoulder of the infant being twisted during delivery, often by use of forceps or a vacuum-assist device. This can happen if the infant is too large or in the wrong position for a safe vaginal delivery. Paralysis, muscle contracture, and weakness can result.
- Shoulder dystocia. If the baby is too large and has “linebacker shoulders,” they can become stuck in the birth canal. This can be difficult to predict even with an ultrasound. The injuries can range from vaginal tearing or uterine rupture for the mother, to shoulder fracture and nerve damage for the infant.
How We Can Help
Proving that a C-section should have been done earlier (if one was done) can be difficult. Doctors do not intentionally seek to harm their patients. Deciding when and how to perform an emergency C-section is a judgment call on the part of the doctor, and the effect on your baby may not be immediately obvious.
When you contact Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC, we will listen to all the facts of your case with care and compassion. We know that your child may be facing a lifetime’s disability and care, and you want the best possible treatment. We will do what is possible to make that happen.
Showing that a doctor or medical team was negligent in failing to perform a C-section sooner during the delivery means establishing a pattern of fetal distress throughout the labor and the team failing to acknowledge and act on it for an extended period. Our team will help you obtain the records necessary to develop this timeline and track the course of treatment throughout the labor.
Because this may be a difficult process for you, our attorneys will carry out the investigation, speak with witnesses, and discuss the facts in the case with opposing counsel and insurance companies on both sides. Showing how this case may affect you and your child for the rest of your lives will take some time, and we will assemble a case that will present these facts to the court.
If you believe your child was injured at birth due to a delayed C-section, contact Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC at 312-346-8620 right away. Illinois has a two-year statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims, even in cases like these, so time is of the essence. Call our legal team today for a confidential consultation.