Physical and psychological injury to mother during birth

Another aspect of birth injury negligence you may be interested in learning more about is the physical and psychological injury to the mother during birth.

Physical injuries to mothers during birth include urinary incontinence, vaginal tears that can lead to pain, surgical repair and in extreme cases, bowel incontinence and anal sphincter injuries. Felicity Cottle from our Accident Claims team covers more about the physical birth injuries from the mother’s perspective in her blog.

Psychologically, a traumatic birth could have long-lasting detrimental effects on the mother, and could stem from negligent care such as failure to monitor mother and baby, failure to act on any signs of distress, failure to listen to what a mother is saying and failure to carry out procedures or use equipment properly.

The mother may be left with feelings of disappointment or guilt that the birth didn’t go to plan, feel angry towards the staff for falling short in their duty of care, or even experience distressing flashbacks to the trauma she suffered. This mental trauma could potentially impact her relationship with her child and/or partner, and make life particularly difficult if her child is born with a disability due to the negligent treatment.

Read more about the impact that birth injuries can have on a mother’s mental health in Caroline Lobsang’s blog.

Dealing with wrongful birth

There are some other circumstances that are classified as birth injury when it comes to medical negligence. One of these is ‘wrongful birth’, and typically refers to the following situations:

Your vasectomy or sterilisation was not performed correctly, and this resulted in an unwanted pregnancy

You can make a wrongful birth claim for loss of earnings and other financial losses that resulted from an unwanted pregnancy, as well as claiming for emotional distress. You may also be able to claim for the costs of terminating the pregnancy.

If you choose to go ahead with the pregnancy, the law states that you can’t claim compensation for the cost of bringing up that child unless the child is disabled. The compensation may also cover the cost of re-sterilisation or performing the vasectomy again.

You were not told about your child’s severe disability, despite medical staff being aware of it

You can make a wrongful birth claim if you would have terminated the pregnancy had you been made aware of your child’s disability.

This could be because you were given wrong advice about the risks of your child being born with the condition or disease in question, you were not given the appropriate screening to test for the condition or disease, or if you were given incorrect information about your baby’s health due to faulty scanning equipment or untrained staff.

You can only make a wrongful birth claim in any of these circumstances if your child was born with a specific disability, which currently includes spina bifida, club feet, hole in the heart and Down’s syndrome. Compensation will generally cover the costs of ensuring your child’s welfare and care in relation to their disability.