Many women are understandably nervous about giving birth. Whether for the first time or for a subsequent child, each labor and delivery is different. It only makes sense that a woman wants to be as informed as possible about the safest way to give birth to her child. Women in the United Kingdom are now being afforded that opportunity.
A landmark ruling last year in the UK Supreme Court awarded damages to a woman and her child after the baby sustained brain damage during a vaginal birth. According to court records, the woman had an unusually high risk of a difficult birth because of having diabetes and a small pelvis. Doctors did not inform her of these higher risks, eliminating her ability to make an informed decision about her own birthing process.
Advise is certainly available for women who seek it, but they are not typically warned about common risks. A vaginal birth is seen as the typical outcome of a pregnancy, and doctors, until now, were not informed of all risks for different types of delivery.
In the UK and across the world, the average age of mothers has been on the rise for decades. Four decades ago, the average age at childbirth in the UK was 26. In 2014, the average age of the mother during a first-time birth was 30. Research has shown that risks associated with a vaginal birth rise with age. A study conducted in Australia, for example, showed that an increase in age brings with it the risk of a major pelvic floor injury. This type of damage can lead to permanent incontinence.
The study found that for every extra year of age at the time of first childbirth, a woman’s risk for the specific injury rose by 6 percent. This rise in risk is due to the fact that muscles and ligaments are less elastic as we age. This makes the damage a higher risk to women who choose to wait until their late 20s and 30s to have their first child. It is argued that women should be warned about such factors before they determine that a vaginal birth is the safest method of delivery.
Currently, it is typically women who are considering C-section who are told of the risks involved with the delivery. Doctors are not reconsidering this and discussing how women may be clued in to all risks with all type of delivery. Like with any type of procedure, women need to be aware of the risks associated with their choice of birthing methods. So just what is the safest method of delivery? That depends.
Younger, Healthy Women
For women in their early 20s who are otherwise healthy, a vaginal birth is typically considered the safest. This is assuming that there is no fetal distress during delivery. A woman’s body is designed for childbirth, and the body of a healthy young woman will generally experience delivery with few complications.
Older, Healthy Women
For women who wait until they are in their 30s or 40s to experience the birth of their first child, vaginal delivery may still be the safest. This should be decided only with the assistance of a trusted OB/Gyn. Women must be advised of the risks to their own health before determining that a vaginal delivery is the best option.
Women with Ill Health or Babies in Distress
A C-section is a major surgical procedure and should not be undergone without serious consideration. That said, for some women with underlying conditions, this type of delivery may be the best option. It is also often the only option when a baby shows signs of distress. When a baby’s life is in danger, the possible complications of a c-section outweigh the potential loss of life.
No woman should undergo labor and delivery without first speaking to their doctor and coming up with a birth plan. Weighing all of the potential risks of either type of birthing method is the only way to make an informed decision. Labor and delivery are incredibly personal and neither way is right for every woman in every instance. Do your research, discuss your options with your doctor and make a decision only after you feel comfortable doing so.
At times, a birth injury in Miami could have been avoided if a doctor had not been negligent or made a mistake. If you believe that this occurred in your situation, you may have the right to seek compensation for your injuries and those that your child suffered.
In these cases, it is imperative that you speak to an attorney as soon as possible and learn about your rights under current state law. A statute of limitations does apply to personal injury and medical malpractice lawsuits in Florida. Call our office for more information about how our firm can help you and to schedule an appointment for your free case evaluation.