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The placenta not only transports oxygen and nutrients from a woman to her fetus, but also helps the fetus to expel some of its waste while in utero. As the fetus develops, especially during the third trimester, some waste will remain in its digestive tract. This first fecal matter – which is called meconium – includes bile, water, mucus, amniotic fluid, and old skin and lanugo (soft hair) cells.
Meconium is usually expelled in the day or so after birth; but in as many as one in four pregnancies the fetus will release this first stool while still in utero or during birth. In some cases, fetal distress (especially oxygen deficiency or a compromised placenta) can cause this early release.
Meconium-stained amniotic fluid can be cause for concern if a newborn breathes it in prior to or during the delivery. When a baby with Meconium Aspiration Syndrome isn’t breathing normally or being as active as expected, medical providers have a short period of time to suction out this fluid from its mouth and lungs to restore good oxygen levels – especially if there were signs of perinatal asphyxia prior to birth.
Failure to detect signs of fetal distress (such as an abnormal fetal heart rate before birth), delays in clearing obstructed airways, and poor postpartum monitoring for Meconium Aspiration Syndrome complications such as infection may harm a newborn.
If negligence or incompetence on the part of a medical provider was behind a breach in standards of care and a pregnant woman, her fetus or a newborn is seriously hurt, it’s called obstetrical malpractice – and it can change the course of a life forever.
Obstetrical Malpractice and Common Birth Injuries
Obstetrical malpractice can cause or contribute to a preventable birth injury at any time over the course of a pregnancy, during labour and delivery, or immediately following a newborn’s birth.
Some examples of negligent actions (or inaction) or incompetence while under obstetrical care include: inappropriately administering or reading results of tests or screenings, faulty tests, poor monitoring or management of maternal medical conditions or medications, misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of serious medical issues, excessive force used during an extraction (vacuum or forceps), and poor post-birth care.
These and other actions can cause life-altering birth injuries, including:
- Brain damage and related conditions such as cerebral palsy. Oxygen deprivation (asphyxia, anoxia or hypoxia), placental insufficiency, maternal or in utero infection, head trauma during birth, and untreated severe jaundice (kernicterus) can all lead to significant cognitive impairment and neurological damage.
- Spinal cord injuries. Failure to test for abnormalities or improper analysis of results may prevent a woman from knowing she is carrying a fetus with a severely debilitating medical condition such as spina bifida (vertebrae do not enclose to protect nerves in the spine).
- Nerve damage, soft tissue injuries, fractures. Birth trauma from poorly managed forced extractions may cause serious harm to both infants and pregnant women. In shoulder dystocias (the baby’s head is delivered but the body remains wedged behind the pelvic bone) brachial plexus injuries can occur when nerves in the neck are stretched or severed. Improper use of vacuums and tools such as forceps can sometimes lead to scarring or even broken bones if improper force is used.
When You’ve Been Hurt, We Can Help
At a time when you should be celebrating a new birth, a preventable birth injury caused by obstetrical malpractice instead brings feelings of sadness, anger and grief. You should not bear the costs associated with ongoing care and rehabilitation by yourself. Moreover, you and/or your loved one deserve to be compensated for the pain, suffering and loss another person’s negligence or incompetence has caused.
You’re not in this alone. Howie, Sacks and Henry’s experienced birth injury lawyers are ready to assist you in St. Thomas with an obstetrical malpractice claim. Well-known for our client-centred care, HSH has been consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top personal injury firms. Our birth injury lawyers have the knowledge, skill, and expertise to handle even the most complex cases in this challenging area of law.
At HSH, we empathize with how overwhelming it can be to think about a lawsuit, especially when you’re facing an unimaginable tragedy and going through such a difficult and stressful period in your life. With kindness, compassion, and attentive care, we strive to make the legal process understandable and humane. You will always be more than a file to us.
An HSH birth injury lawyer will gladly arrange to meet with you in your own home in St. Thomas or at a nearby consultation office to listen to your birth story, explain your options, and provide legal advice. Our team with also support you through this process by facilitating the tests, assessments and therapies you or your loved one will need for both your case and your rehabilitation.
With an HSH birth injury lawyer on your side and by your side in St. Thomas, you can be confident that you will have a staunch legal advocate who will keep your best interests front and centre. Together, we’ll work to 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 St. Thomas? Contact Us.
We serve the St. Thomas and surrounding areas. When you think Birth Injuries Lawyer St. Thomas, Think Howie, Sacks & Henry.