If you have become incontinent after giving birth, you will want to know why this has happened and if there is anything you can do about it.
Urinary incontinence after birth
During pregnancy and birth, the pelvic floor muscles become weakened. There may also be a degree of nerve damage during a vaginal delivery. Both of these factors can reduce the strength in the urethra, resulting in episodes of stress incontinence. This is when a woman involuntarily passes urine when pressure is placed upon the bladder (due to things such as sneezing or laughing).
Urinary incontinence after birth can be improved with pelvic floor exercises. If the problem is severe, additional medical intervention may be required in the form of biofeedback and electric nerve stimulation.
It is not always possible to avoid urinary incontinence, although doing pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy is thought to help. Unfortunately it is a widely accepted risk of childbirth and there is nothing medical professionals can do to prevent a patient from suffering urinary dysfunction.
Faecal incontinence after birth
During a vaginal delivery, it is possible that the perineum will tear. There are varying degrees of perineal tear, with a fourth degree tear being the most severe. This injury extends to the internal and external anal sphincters. The anal sphincters enable our ability to control the passing of flatus (wind) and faeces. Therefore if they are torn during birth, a woman’s ability to prevent the passing of flatus and faeces will be reduced, leading to episodes of faecal incontinence.
Faecal incontinence after birth can be treated with surgical and non-surgical intervention. After birth the torn anal sphincters should be repaired in theatre by a specialist surgeon. This should go a long way to ensuring a woman regains normal function. If there are continuing problems, additional surgery may be required. Other forms of treatment include biofeedback, physiotherapy, sacral nerve stimulation and a colostomy.
Having a primary repair of a third or fourth degree tear is known to improve a patient’s prognosis. This means that a repair must be carried out shortly after the birth, rather than weeks or months (or sometimes even years) later. If there is a delay in surgical repair and this is down to medical error, the standard of care will be considered negligent.
Incontinence and medical negligence claims
If you have suffered anal sphincter damage during birth and this injury was not properly repaired shortly after the birth, you will be considered the innocent victim of medical negligence. You will therefore be entitled to claim compensation for the damage this has had on your life. Contact us today to find out more.
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