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It is a general hope that all women have a happy experience in childbirth with minimal complications. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Sometimes, the medical experts overseeing the delivery have to make difficult decisions to ensure both mother and baby survive. It is during these decisions that obstetric negligence can occur, causing damage to the nerves in the baby’s neck, shoulders and arm.
If you can identify with this and believe your baby has suffered due to obstetric negligence, Longden Walker & Renney can help. Call our clinical negligence solicitors direct on 0191 5666 500 or complete our no obligation enquiry form online to arrange your free initial advice session.
Your case could be covered by a No Win No Fee or conditional fee agreement, and if you are entitled to any other financial benefits such as Legal Aid or legal expenses insurance, our helpful clinical negligence solicitors team will let you know from the beginning.
How does a Brachial Plexus injury occur?
The brachial plexus refers to a leash of nerves that stems from the base of the neck, leading across the shoulders and into the arm. A brachial plexus injury can occur to these nerves during childbirth if the baby’s shoulder becomes stuck behind the symphysis pubis during an obstetric emergency.
Since the baby’s chest is compressed in this situation, its ability to breathe is restricted. Midwives and obstetricians have a window of up to 10 minutes (or fewer, for a distressed baby) to deliver the child before its risk of sustaining brain damage or dying becomes serious. If the baby’s head is pulled too hard during this time, then the nerves of the brachial plexus could become bruised, stressed or completely torn, which can cause significant problems in the future, requiring surgery and/or physiotherapy to fix it.
However, a shoulder dystocia emergency can be handled so that the baby does not develop a birth injury if the following well-known actions are performed:
- As soon as a shoulder dystocia occurs, a senior obstetrician or doctor should be summoned.
- The mother’s position should be changed into the McRoberts position (this being flat on her back, knees raised, and legs lifted up so that her thighs are against her abdomen).
- Suprapubic pressure should be applied, which involves pressing down on the mother to try and free up the shoulder that has become stuck.
- There should be a rotation of the shoulders internally which would involve the obstetrician manually attempting to rotate the shoulder off the symphysis pubis.
- A large episiotomy should be made as this will facilitate for an easier delivery.
If this procedure is not performed and birth trauma occurs, it is likely this is due to obstetric negligence. For more information or advice, call our helpful clinical negligence solicitors on 0191 5666 500. You can also fill out our online enquiry form to arrange an advice session, at no cost and under no obligation.