Everything You Need to Know About Emergency C-Sections

The most common surgery in the US is a cesarean delivery, also known as a “C-section.” While sometimes C-sections are medically necessary to save the baby or mother’s life, most low-risk women can safely give birth without one.

C-sections come with risks, just like any other surgery. You can face serious complications like blood loss and life-threatening infections. Not getting a C-section when you need one is just as dangerous. You or your baby could suffer life-long consequences from a doctor’s negligence.

If you’re dealing with complications from a C-section or because a doctor failed to order one in time when one was needed, consider contacting a lawyer. Victims of birth injuries and medical malpractice in Indiana can trust Wagner Reese to handle their case. Our team of Indianapolis birth injury lawyers understands the emotional, physical, and financial impact of your injuries and losses, and we’ll help you explore your options to make sure you’re properly compensated.

What is a C-Section?

Every day, about one-third of babies are born via C-section. C-sections are a surgical procedure to remove the baby from the mother’s body through the abdomen rather than a traditional vaginal delivery.

Before surgery, you receive a pain blocker or other form of anesthesia. A surgeon makes an incision in your abdomen to reach the uterus. Another incision is made to open the uterus and remove the baby. The incisions are then stitched or stapled closed for your wounds to heal.

Some C-sections are scheduled ahead of time, but many are performed as an emergency medical procedure due to a complication during delivery.

When are Emergency C-Sections Performed?

There are times when a C-section is medically necessary to save the life of the mother or child.

These conditions may include:

  • Placenta Previa, when the placenta is blocking the cervix
  • If the fetus isn’t in the proper placement for a vaginal birth or is too large to fit through the birth canal
  • If the mother is carrying multiples, like twins or triplets
  • If the mother is suffering from conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes
  • The health of the baby is at risk from conditions like cord prolapse
  • If the labor is not progressing
  • If the mother has a condition like HIV that could be passed to the baby during vaginal birth

The Danger of Unnecessary C-sections

Most low-risk pregnancies don’t require C-sections for the safe delivery of their baby. In cases with no medical need for a C-section, the surgery may do more harm than good.

A C-section is major abdominal surgery that requires a longer stay in the hospital after your baby is born. You’ll also need longer to recover from the C-section surgery at home than from vaginal birth.

Risks from C-section include infections, blood clots and hemorrhaging, and injury to your organs like your bladder or bowel. Low-risk women undergoing their first C-sections are three times more likely to face serious complications or death than women who deliver vaginally.

There are also long-term risks from C-sections you and your children could face. Rates of asthma and obesity were higher in children born via C-section. Mothers face serious complications in future pregnancies after having a C-section previously, like stillbirth, uterine rupture, and placenta previa.

Having a C-section also increases the odds you’ll need a C-section for future births. About 90% of women who deliver their first child via C-section deliver their second children in the same manner.

Why Do Doctors Perform Medically Unnecessary C-Sections?

Doctors may perform C-sections because they’re more convenient. The surgery can be scheduled ahead of time, so doctors aren’t getting calls in the middle of the night. They may also schedule them near the end of the day if your labor isn’t progressing quickly or the hospital needs the room.

C-sections are also a form of risk aversion. If the doctor is concerned about the mother or baby’s health, they may suggest a C-section. In these cases, while the surgery might not be medically necessary, it could be the best option at reducing a riskier delivery later.

Sometimes the mother requests a C-section if the labor isn’t progressing quickly, and doctors agree to the surgery as an elective procedure.

However, doctors are paid about 15% more for deliveries via C-section than for vaginal deliveries. So while higher payment may not be the deciding factor, the financial incentive to perform C-section surgery may make your doctor more inclined to suggest the surgery. If a doctor suggests an unnecessary C-section, knowing that the potential risks to your health and well-being are actually higher with the surgery than without it, they may be guilty of medical malpractice.

Medical Malpractice Claims for Delayed Emergency C-Sections

When it becomes apparent that the baby needs to be delivered via emergency C-section, the procedure must be performed as soon as possible to ensure the safety of both mother and child.

If staff fail to recognize the signs of fetal or maternal distress, abnormalities in the fetal heart rate, or simply wait too long to admit the laboring mother to the operating room, both mother and child could sustain severe injuries.

Some common birth injuries due to delayed emergency C-sections include:

  • Shoulder dystocia
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Erb’s palsy
  • Brain injury
  • Death of the child

These common birth injuries, when not fatal, can often result in permanent damage and extensive medical bills, as well as cause great amounts of emotional distress for families.

If medical staff at your birthing facility delay ordering an emergency C-section and you or your child suffered a birth injury, you may be eligible to file a medical malpractice claim to receive compensation for your medical costs and pain and suffering.

Get Help with Birth Injuries

A difficult labor or delivery can result in birth injuries. These injuries alter the course of your life and can be expensive to manage. Doctors who fail to call for an emergency C-section or administer an unnecessary one may be found negligent.

If your medical care team is responsible for a birth injury, you have the right to compensation. The attorneys at Wagner Reese help residents of Indiana explore their rights after a birth injury with compassion.

Our legal team understands the pain you’re going through and fights on your behalf to ensure you receive full compensation. Contact Wagner Reese today for a confidential, free consultation.