The idea that it is better for women and their babies to have a natural birth, i.e. a vaginal birth without intervention, has been promoted by a range of people and organizations
For many years, the idea that it is better for women and their babies to have a natural birth, i.e. a vaginal birth without intervention, has been promoted by a range of people and organizations. Perhaps most prominent amongst those promoting natural birth was the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), who ran a campaign on the issue from 2005-2017.
However, there have long been concerns that this has placed pressure on women to reject medical intervention, such as epidurals, inductions and caesarean sections, when it would have been in their and their babies’ best interests. It has also been suggested that some midwives and doctors did not act quickly enough to provide appropriate medical intervention due to a focus on facilitating a “natural” birth.
The issue came under particular scrutiny following an inquiry into the deaths of 11 babies and one mother at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust between 2004 and 2013.
The inquiry revealed that midwives working for the trust pushed for “normal births” even when risk factors were present that should have triggered medical intervention. This was found to have contributed to unsafe deliveries, putting mothers and babies at risk. Failings were also uncovered in the way midwives communicated with doctors and other medical staff, including incidents where doctors were not called in soon enough to assist with difficult births.
Why timely medical intervention can be critical to avoid birth injuries
In the overwhelming majority of cases, birth injuries can be prevented or made much less serious with appropriate medical intervention.
For example, with a condition such as Erb’s palsy, where the nerves in a child’s arms are damaged during delivery, there are key risk factors to look out for, such as the baby being in the breech position or being larger than normal, which increases the likelihood of their shoulders becoming trapped by the mother’s pelvic bone.
In such cases, a timely decision to opt for a caesarean section can avoid any possibility of the baby becoming stuck in this way. This means there will be no need to risk inappropriate pressure being put on the baby’s arm or shoulder during delivery, protecting them from the potential nerve damage this can cause.
There are many other common birth injuries that can be avoided or the impact minimised with the right medical intervention at the right time. This includes cerebral palsy, which can be caused by lack of oxygen to a baby’s brain immediately before, during or after birth. Monitoring factors such as maternal blood pressure and any potential issues with the umbilical cord or placenta can therefore be vital to ensure any drop in oxygen reaching the child is quickly identified and appropriate action can be taken.
To ensure both mothers and their babies stay protected before, during and after birth, it is important that nothing should influence midwives, doctors or other medical staff in a way that makes them delay or advise against medical intervention where it is appropriate.
What to do if you or your baby suffered a birth injury
If you believe you and your baby were let down by medical staff handling your child’s birth, you may be entitled to birth injury compensation. This can often be critical to ensuring your family gets all the support you need so you and your child can live a full, happy life.
IBB Claims specialises in all types of birth injury claims, having secured millions of pounds in compensation for our clients over the years. We can provide an honest assessment of the strength of your claim and a highly accurate estimate of its value, then provide all the help and support you need to have the best chance of a fair outcome.