An assisted birth can increase the risk of suffering a severe perineal injury such as a 3rd or 4th degree tear.
An assisted birth
An assisted birth, or an instrumental birth, is where the obstetrician or medical professional attending the birth uses medical instruments to help the mother give birth to her baby.
The method used may be a ventouse, or suction cap, applied to the head of the baby as it emerges via the vagina, or forceps applied to the side of the baby’s head to help guide it through and out of the birth canal.
Such a process may be considered necessary when the mother has been undergoing labour for some time and the baby’s head may have presented at the opening of the vagina and yet the baby has not been fully born. There may be some concern as to the baby’s position or its heart rate and it is felt that it is important that the delivery be completed promptly.
Assisted birth risks
However, an assisted birth, particularly a forceps birth, is associated with a higher level of risk of a severe obstetric injury.
When an assisted delivery is considered to be necessary, it is generally felt that an episiotomy should be carried out prior to the assisted birth in order to reduce the chance of severe perineal injury.
Assisted births and an episiotomy
In these circumstances it is important that the episiotomy is carried out competently in order to reduce rather than increase the risk of injury.
Where an assisted birth is undertaken without an episiotomy being carried out, the relevant medical professionals may be considered to have provided a substandard level of care. If the new mother subsequently suffers a severe obstetric injury causing long-term symptoms, it may be appropriate to make a claim for compensation.
Effects of a severe perineal injury
Severe tears, known also as obstetric anal sphincter injuries, can damage the lining and muscles of the anus. If not diagnosed and repaired promptly after the birth, the woman can soon start to experience wind and faecal incontinence. The longer this remains undiagnosed, the less likely it is that any repair will be successful, impacting dramatically on the life of the woman affected.
If you are suffering with significant, long-term effects of perineal injury due to a failing of medical care, contact us to discuss your experience with a specialist medical negligence solicitor. It might be appropriate to make a claim for compensation.
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If you, or your family member, has suffered a birth injury tear, please call us now for free, no obligation advice on 0800 234 3300 (or from a mobile click to call 01275 334030) or complete our Free Online Enquiry.