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Should my doctor give me a C-section?

Of all the medical errors that are made, perhaps the ones that cause the most grief are birth injuries. When an infant is injured during or just before birth, the baby's life trajectory is often irretrievably altered.

The might-have-beens that the parents — and later, the children — experience can be heartbreaking. Children who suffered birth injuries may never be able to walk or move freely or may experience lifelong cognitive difficulties that restrict them and their opportunities to thrive and prosper in life.

C-sections may be necessary

Obstetricians sometimes know months in advance that they will need to perform C-sections on certain patients. Other times, these decisions are made on the fly when the mother's condition begins to rapidly deteriorate. Regardless, it is the responsibility of the obstetrician to know when to take swift action to save the mother and baby by performing a C-section.

Below are five birth conditions that may indicate that a C-section is necessary.

1. There will be multiple births

Many mothers successfully deliver twins vaginally. However, the more fetuses there are, the higher the risk there is to both the babies and their mother. Obstetricians have a variety of tools at their disposal to determine whether C-sections will be needed for mothers giving birth to multiples.

Their doctors must closely monitor both the mothers and the babies because these situations are fluid and can decompensate quickly. If the doctor fails to correctly interpret the signs, both mothers' and babies' lives may be at risk.

2. There's evidence of cephalopelvic disproportion

That's the medical term for a mother's pelvis being too small for the baby's head to pass safely through the birth canal. This can be due to overly large babies, babies with larger-than-average heads or mothers who have very slim bodies and narrow hips. Failing to perform a C-section for this condition can mean that the baby is unable to complete its journey into the world without severe injuries to itself and its mother.

3. Fetal distress

Even when pregnancies have proceeded normally, when a woman is in labor, her baby can begin to experience fetal distress. Perhaps the oxygen levels decrease dangerously or the umbilical cord gets twisted around the baby's neck. Doctors must move quickly to birth the baby and avoid the lifelong complications from oxygen deprivation during the birthing process.

4. The position of the baby

In normal pregnancies, just before birth, babies descend to the left occiput anterior position. Their backs are next to the mothers' bellies with their heads canted toward the birth canal. When babies present in other positions, it is a good indication that a C-section will be necessary.

Breech births with the baby presenting feet-first and transverse (sideways) positions typically require C-sections to avoid any lasting birth injuries.

5. Problems with the placenta

Babies need their placentas to link them to their nutritional and oxygen supplies while in their mothers' wombs. Placenta previa causes the placenta to implant itself too low in the uterus, subsequently blocking the baby's exit route.

Placental abruption causes the placenta to separate too soon from the baby. Both conditions are life-threatening and require immediate C-sections.

6. The mother's own health conditions

Mothers-to-be who suffer from diabetes and/or hypertension may need to have their babies delivered via C-section. Sometimes the mother and her obstetrician are able to safely manage her condition and allow her to deliver her baby vaginally, but a C-section may still become necessary as the due date nears.

It may be necessary to pursue legal action if an obstetrician fails to order a necessary C-section and the baby suffers irreversible birth injuries.

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