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“Expect the unexpected.” When it comes to labour and delivery, it’s the motto every medical provider should have. Despite all the medical advances that have occurred over the years, there are many inherent risks involved in birth. While there may be advanced warning for some risks and complications, others can emerge suddenly and require medical practitioners to remain calm, use good judgment, and work according to well-practiced procedure.

For example, despite some known risk factors for shoulder dystocia (large fetus, past-due delivery date, lengthy labour, or previous shoulder dystocia birth), this obstetrical emergency can happen without warning during a delivery. Shoulder dystocia occurs generally occurs when a baby’s head is delivered but its shoulders remain lodged behind a woman’s pelvic bone. Common signs of shoulder dystocia include the “turtle” symptom when the head emerges from the birth canal but then quickly pulls back, or if the baby’s body fails to emerge with standard pushing.

If shoulder dystocia is diagnosed, a medical provider must work quickly to safely deliver the baby. Generally, they have about three to five minutes from this period to complete the birth if the baby had good oxygen levels prior to the partial delivery. If fetal distress was apparent, there is even less time to remove it before it may suffer from the effects of asphyxia and sustain brain damage.

Nevertheless, medical practitioners must also be careful not to cause physical damage to the baby as they undertake procedures to deliver it. Using excessive force can result in nerve damage from brachial plexus injuries when the nerves between the baby’s neck and shoulders are stretched or even severed as it is suctioned or pulled out. Mild brachial plexus injuries may heal without intervention, but more serious condition may require surgery or cause permanent disability.

Common Types of Birth Injuries

Birth injuries can occur at any stage of pregnancy, during labour and delivery, or in the postpartum period. While some of these injuries are simply unavoidable, if a medical provider breaches standards of care due to negligence or incompetence and causes or contributes to serious harm of a pregnant woman, her fetus or newborn, it’s called obstetrical malpractice.

Preventable injuries from obstetrical malpractice include:

  • Brain damage and cerebral palsy – This can occur due to untreated maternal or in utero infections, birth trauma, placental insufficiency (causing oxygen deprivation or lack of nutrition to the fetus), or misdiagnosed or undiagnosed conditions causing fetal distress.
  • Meconium aspiration syndrome – If fetal fecal matter mixes with amniotic fluid in utero and is ingested by the baby, it can obstruct airways, deprive the brain of oxygen, or result in infection and cause secondary organ damage if not treated quickly and effectively.
  • Spinal cord damage, nerve and tissue damage, broken bones – Undiagnosed spina bifida (vertebrae fail to enclose nerves in the spinal column) can cause significant injury and disability, while inappropriate force during extractions may cause scarring, fractures or nerve stretching or tears.
  • Kernicterus – Many babies have mild jaundice following birth if their liver is not well developed. If the jaundice is becomes severe and is not effectively diagnosed or treated, it can cause neurotoxicity and damage the brain.

We Can Help After A Birth Injury

Discovering a loved one has sustained a birth injury can turn a moment of joy into one of sadness, anger or grief. Learning that negligence or incompetence caused or contributed to a preventable birth injury is often especially devastating. When this occurs, you should not have to bear the significant costs of ongoing care and rehabilitation alone. And, you should be compensated for the pain, suffering and losses that you or your loved one has experienced.

Howie, Sacks and Henry’s skilled birth injury lawyers can help you with an obstetrical malpractice claim in Pembroke. As one of Canada’s top personal injury firms, we have the expertise to support and advocate for you in this complex and challenging area of law.

With our reputation for client-centred service, we do our utmost to ensure you know you are always more than file to us. With compassion, kindness, and great empathy, we will listen to your birth story, advise you of your legal options, and assist in scheduling tests, evaluations and therapies to help you with your case and your recovery.

We believe that distance or ability to travel should never be a barrier to high quality legal representation. An HSH birth injury lawyer will gladly arrange to meet wherever it’s most convenient for you – in your own home in the Pembroke area or at a nearby consultation office. And in every interaction with us, you can be assured you will receive respect, dignity and attentive care.

If you or a loved one has sustained a birth injury, you can count on an HSH birth injury lawyer to be on your side and by your side in Pembroke. As your trusted advocate, we’ll work to help you access the financial resources you need and deserve and give you hope there are better days ahead.

Looking to work with a birth injury lawyer in Pembroke? Contact Us.

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Since 2011 Canadian Lawyer Magazine rated us one of the top personal injury law firms in Canada. Why? With close to 20 years helping accident victims and their families, our firm understands the laws that affect your rights to compensation because we’ve helped shape those laws in favour of accident victims.

Among the best in Canada

Since 2011 Canadian Lawyer Magazine rated us one of the top personal injury law firms in Canada. Why? With close to 20 years helping accident victims and their families, our firm understands the laws that affect your rights to compensation because we’ve helped shape those laws in favour of accident victims.