The birth of a child should be one of life's most beautiful experiences. For far too many, however, it instead becomes a brush with death.
Childbirth complications are surprisingly prevalent in the United States. More than 50,000 women nationwide suffer from them every year, and nearly 1,000 die in childbirth, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And those numbers are on the rise.
Over the last few decades, serious childbirth complications in our country have more than doubled. Emergency hysterectomies have risen more than 60 percent. Sepsis rates have increased by 75 percent, and blood transfusions have risen fivefold.
Nationwide, women in America are five times more likely to need an emergency hysterectomy than those in Europe, and twice as likely to undergo a C-section (which alone is associated with heightened risk of complications).
What contributes to the increased risk?
Some of the risk undoubtedly comes from lifestyle factors. Women are more likely to wait until their mid- or upper-30s to get pregnant, and advanced maternal age is a major risk factor. High rates of obesity and underlying health conditions also contribute.
However, many fatal and life-threatening complications are preventable. Negligence in this field can take many forms, including:
- Failure to identify warning signs such as high blood pressure
- Prevalence of inductions and C-sections for convenience rather than medical necessity
- Gaps in training for hospital staff and physicians
- Absence of hospital protocols for dealing with childbirth-related emergencies
- Lack of sufficient prenatal and postpartum care
In some cases, flagrant malpractice leaves mother and baby with lasting harm.
Reducing your risk of complications
If you're expecting, the last thing you need is to dwell on worst-case scenarios of what could go wrong. Still, it's important to be aware of the risks so that you can take steps to safeguard your health - for example, by:
- Seeking prenatal care throughout your pregnancy
- Choosing a reputable care provider
- Delivering in a reputable hospital that is well-equipped to handle emergencies
- Making informed decisions about your care options
- Asking questions and speaking up when something doesn't seem right
- Maintaining your health during the course of your pregnancy
In the heart-wrenching cases when something does go wrong, it's important to get answers. Consider speaking with an attorney who is knowledgeable in medical malpractice.