Pregnant women place a great deal of trust in their medical teams. Unfortunately, they may also underestimate (and are not provided with proper assistance to enhance) their own abilities to give birth without surgery. In many cases, mothers-to-be are encouraged to consider unwanted interventions and c-section birth from the beginning of labor. Common labor interventions make c-section birth more likely. Epidurals often slow the natural process down and can result in impatient medical providers and nervous mothers-to-be. In addition, having an epidural increases the risk of findings of fetal distress, which is more likely to lead to a c-section.
Of course, many doctors may make such suggestions for legitimate reasons, but convenience may also play a role in the recommendation. C-sections are easier to plan, organize, and easier to plan around, and they are also more profitable to hospitals. Doctors and hospitals are not the only ones with some responsibility for overprescribed c-sections. Hospitals may feel squeezed by insurance companies who pay the same for a vaginal birth whether it takes 5 hours or 25 hours. Simply put, a vaginal birth is unpredictable and therefore less convenient for pretty much everyone except for the mother-to-be and family members.
Prevalence and Risks of C-Sections
Overall in the United States, c-section births increased throughout the early 2000s, but have decreased over the past two years. The rate of c-section births in Michigan has not seen similar decreases and is currently slightly above the national average (32.8% vs. 32.2%). Michigan’s nearly average percentage belies a more troubling fact: nearly 55% of Michigan hospitals have c-section rates above the national average. This is important because it puts real women and real infants at risk when it is not medically necessary to do so.
C-sections are major surgeries with potentially serious complications. There can be damage to the mother’s organs, internal bleeding, blood clots, infection, and even death. There is also increased risk to the child, especially as related to the likelihood of breathing problems or fetal lacerations. Fetal lacerations can occur in up to 6% of c-section births, with a wide range of possible impacts on the infant:
- Simple lacerations to the face, ears, head, or back;
- Bone fractures;
- Cervical cord injuries;
- Klumpke’s palsy;
- Erb’s palsy.
Most world health experts agree that the medically necessary percentage of births requiring cesarean section is between ten and fifteen percent. As mentioned above, United States c-sections average out to be a little more than 32% of live births. The World Health Organization (WHO) found that there are not likely to be additional decreases in maternal or infant death when the proportion of births by c-section increases above ten percent. In fact, many studies show that the risk of complications is increased when c-sections are used in low-risk births.
The attorneys at The Law Offices of Lee Steinberg understand that a successful major surgery can be expensive and exhausting, but the result of an error during birth can be devastating. If you feel you were pressured, encouraged, or induced into having an unnecessary c-section that resulted in pain, suffering, or loss, there is recourse for you. Our expert medical malpractice and birth injury lawyers will fight to ensure you are compensated in a way that allows you to focus on your healing. Call us at 1-800-LEE-FREE today to begin with a free consultation.