Can Difficult Labor Lead to Injuries for a Child or Mother?

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Can a Long, Difficult Labor Lead to Injuries for a Child or Mother?

Posted on May 11, 2023 in Birth Injury

Chicago Birth Injury Lawyer for Prolonged LaborChildbirth can be challenging, and the process of labor and delivery can be long and difficult. Mothers may experience significant pain and exhaustion over multiple hours of labor. However, there are some situations where labor can last for an extended period, and complications may occur that may make it more difficult to deliver a child. Prolonged labor can increase the risks of birth injuries, and dangerous complications may put the health of the child and the mother at risk. In situations involving long and difficult labor, parents should be aware of the risk factors and the signs of potential birth injuries that may have occurred, which can help them ensure that the proper treatment can be provided for the mother and child.

What Is Prolonged Labor?

Labor will often last for several hours, with an average of 12 to 24 hours for a first birth and eight to 10 hours for a second or subsequent birth. However, there are some situations where labor may stall. The cervix may not fully dilate, or the baby may stop moving through the birth canal. In general, if labor lasts for more than 25 hours for a first-time mother or more than 20 hours for a mother who has previously had a child, it is considered prolonged labor.

Prolonged labor may occur because of a slow effacement or thinning of the cervix. This may be caused by weakened contractions, which can sometimes be attributed to the use of certain medications, such as painkillers. During later stages of labor, issues such as a large baby, a small pelvis, or weak contractions may cause labor to stall. Psychological factors such as stress or anxiety can also sometimes lead to prolonged labor.

Risks of Prolonged Labor

There are a variety of issues that can increase the risks of injuries during prolonged labor. These may include:

  • Infections - A longer labor may create more opportunities for germs to infect a child. If the proper sanitation procedures are not followed at a hospital, germs may enter the birth canal, or infections may occur during the delivery process.

  • Fetal distress - Labor can put a great deal of stress on a child's body. Over an extended period of time, this may cause the baby's heart rate to drop, affecting their ability to receive enough oxygen. When drugs such as Pitocin are used to address stalled labor, this can lead to strong or extended contractions, increasing the likelihood of fetal distress.

  • Asphyxia - During a long labor, complications may occur that could affect a child's ability to receive sufficient oxygen. Problems with the placenta or umbilical cord may affect the flow of blood and oxygen, potentially leading to serious injuries.

  • Shoulder dystocia - If a child's shoulders become stuck in the birth canal, this may lead to injuries affecting the nerves in the neck and shoulders, which could potentially lead to brachial plexus injuries and conditions such as Erb's palsy. The improper use of tools such as forceps or vacuum extraction to help deliver a child may also increase the risks of these types of injuries.

  • Hemorrhaging - A difficult delivery may lead to issues such as vaginal lacerations, and excessive bleeding may occur. If steps are not taken to stop the bleeding, a mother may experience life-threatening blood loss.

Contact a Chicago Birth Injury Lawyer for Prolonged Labor

A long and difficult labor can contribute to the risk of birth injuries for both the infant and the mother. Early intervention is crucial in the treatment of birth injuries, and it is important to discuss concerns with doctors and seek medical treatment to address issues that may affect the growth and development of a child or the health of the mother. Support is available for families coping with birth injuries, and by understanding the resources that are available, they can take the proper steps to avoid future complications or health concerns.

At Birth Injury Law Alliance, Ltd., we work with families to address these issues and make sure they can move forward successfully after a traumatic birth. We can help identify the causes of birth injuries and ensure that parents will have the resources to provide for their child's needs. To learn more about how we can help in these situations, contact our Illinois birth injury attorneys at 312-462-4200 and set up a free consultation.


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