Obstetric injuries which occur during childbirth can cause significant trauma – both physical and psychological – to the new mother.
Obstetric childbirth injuries, otherwise known as perineal tears, are a common occurrence, affecting the majority of women giving birth. Thankfully, for most women these tears will be small and superficial and will heal quickly, naturally and fully. For a small proportion, however, it can result in significant and long-term physical damage. The effects of these severe tears can transform a woman’s life.
Severe obstetric injuries
Severe perineal tears are classified as third and fourth degree tears and they cause damage to the woman beyond the region of the vagina.
Where a woman gives birth to a large baby, especially when it is her first vaginal birth or if she requires an instrumental delivery, she is at risk of suffering a severe anal sphincter injury.
Third and fourth degree tears
A third degree tear will damage the skin and muscle of the perineum between the vagina and anus, but it will also extend to cause injury to the anal sphincter – possibly just the external sphincter but it could affect both the internal and external sphincter – a 3c tear, the most severe form of 3rd degree tear.
A fourth degree tear will additionally damage the inner lining of the anal canal.
The effect of both of these anal injuries can be the reduction or loss of control of the functioning of the bowels.
In other words, the woman may cease to be able to control when she passes wind or faeces. She may become incontinent. At best, she may suffer extreme urgency when she needs to go to the toilet.
Such symptoms can make it difficult to travel, to socialise and to work in a wide variety of types of employment.
Repairing severe tears
If a woman suffers a severe obstetric injury during the birth of her child, it is imperative that the injury is diagnosed at the time of the birth and repaired by an experienced surgeon as soon as possible. This should ensure the best chance of a good recovery.
Where this does not occur, however, either due to a failure to diagnose the injury accurately or at all, the woman can quickly develop the above-mentioned symptoms.
The psychological impact of severe tears
The shock of developing the appalling symptoms of an undiagnosed severe perineal tear can be significant. At a time when the new mother would wish to be able to focus on her baby, she is suffering pain, discomfort and the stress of loss of bowel control.
The realisation that these may be long-term symptoms can be utterly traumatising and leave the woman feeling distressed, isolated and anxious about the future.
If you are suffering with the appalling effects of a severe perineal injury due to a failure to diagnose your tear, you may be entitled to make a claim for compensation.
Contact us to discuss your experience with a specialist medical negligence solicitor.
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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.