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Oakland Personal Injury Lawyer / Blog / Birth Injury / Reasons An Emergency C-Section May Be Necessary During Labor

Reasons An Emergency C-Section May Be Necessary During Labor


While the majority of babies in the US are born via vaginal deliveries, a good percentage of women will give birth via Cesarean section. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that almost 32 percent of deliveries are through C-section, often because the mother chose this approach in advance because of risk factors or other concerns. However, there are times when delivery must be expedited due to threats to the health of the fetus or mother. According to medical standards established by OB-GYN practitioners, an emergency C-section should be performed within 30 minutes of making the decision – though some circumstances dictate an even shorter timeframe.

Though the circumstances are very case-specific, it could be a situation of medical malpractice if a physician delays the decision OR the C-section procedure. You should discuss your legal remedies with an Oakland birth injuries lawyer who can provide details. It is also helpful to review the most common reasons an emergency C-section may be necessary.

 Fetal Distress

 The most common reason that health care providers make the call for a C-section is when the infant exhibits signs of oxygen deprivation, affecting the brain. If not addressed right away, lack of oxygen can cause hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). During labor, medical staff should be monitoring:

  • Decreased fetal movement;
  • Changes in the baby’s heart rate; and,
  • The presence of fetal fecal material in the amniotic fluid. 

Uterine Rupture

With this condition, the woman’s uterus tears during delivery, often leading to hemorrhaging. The hemorrhage affects the flow of oxygen to the fetus, so a uterine rupture could mean physicians have less than 30 minutes from decision-to-incision in terms of performing a C-section.

 Placental Abruption

When the placenta separates from the uterine wall prematurely, it also affects the flow of oxygen to the baby. Placental abruption is a serious concern during pregnancy because a partial or complete separation means the baby is not getting proper nutrients. Your OB-GYN may recommend a planned C-section in such a case. However, during delivery, the fetus could suffer HIE or other serious brain damage from lack of oxygen – making an emergency C-section necessary. 

Umbilical Cord Issues

A cord prolapse occurs when the umbilical cord is pushed out of the birth canal before the infant, increasing the odds of cord compression. Blood flow to the fetus is cut off, and brain damage can result unless health care providers perform a timely C-section.

 Prolonged Labor

In some deliveries, dilation of the cervix ceases or other factors prevent the fetus from moving down the birth canal. For the mother, the implications of hemorrhage and infection can be life-threatening. Plus, for the fetus, prolonged or arrested labor leads to oxygen deprivation.

Discuss Legal Remedies with an Oakland Birth Injuries Attorney

If you have concerns about how health care providers handled a C-section, please contact Venardi Zurada, LLP to speak to a member of our team. We can schedule a no-cost case review at our offices in Oakland or Walnut Creek, CA. Once we learn more about your circumstances, we can explain remedies for birth injuries claims.



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