Many women experience psychological and/or emotional trauma during and following a birth. A traumatic birth can impact on a mother’s post-natal mental health and family relationships. It is important to understand how several factors can influence a woman’s experience of trauma and their ability to access the right care to achieve the best outcome.
Post natal depression
Hospitals and clinicians are sometimes criticised for prioritising their own agendas over the needs of each individual. This can result in unnecessary birth interventions where clinicians attempt to alter the birth process to meet their own preferences, often due to the pressure on their resources.
Around a third of women experience trauma giving birth and this can affect postnatal mental health, sometimes resulting in depression or even post-traumatic stress disorder. This can alter a woman’s sense of self and disrupt family relationships and can cause difficulty with early mother and baby bonding. In addition, it can affect a woman’s future decisions regarding where and how she gives birth. For example, someone may choose to give birth at home in the future to avoid a repeat of a previous traumatic hospital experience.
It is estimated that one in eight women will suffer from post-natal depression. It is suspected that much more goes unreported, perhaps because of a perceived stigma, peer pressure and even cultural or religious influences.
Brain injuries at birth
Healthcare professionals have an ethical, legal and professional duty to provide safe and respectful care. Brain injuries at birth are a leading cause of disability and, in extreme instances, can result in death. Children who have acquired a brain injury as a result of their birth invariably experience a range of acute and often lifelong difficulties with impaired cognitive, academic, emotional and behavioural functioning which vary from mild to severe. Families will often experience a dramatic change in the family function and dynamic, each having to adapt to their new roles and responsibilities and to adjust to a different family environment.
The hopes and expectations for a child’s future are often dramatically changed. Parents and care givers may grieve the loss of the hoped for future for their child and family following the sudden and unforeseen (often traumatic) onset of such an injury. Brain injuries require specialist care, resulting in the parent or caregiver having to be by their child’s side around the clock. This can leave the family in severe financial difficulty as the costs associated with maintaining and improving a child’s healthcare increase dramatically. The pressure and stress of providing this constant care can also have long term psychological consequences for parents or carers.
Getting the right advice early
Legal advice and support is invaluable when dealing with any type of birth injury. For example, clinicians may have failed to act quickly enough in a dangerous situation, or perhaps they failed to diagnose a baby’s condition. This may have resulted from a failure to monitor the baby, misuse of birthing tools such as forceps, or using unnecessary force during childbirth.
If you, or your child, has suffered an injury as discussed above, we can help assess if you are able to make a claim. We are also aware of an increasing number of instances where women have experienced physical and psychological injury as a result of perineal tears or spinal injuries when giving birth. It is often the case that such injuries were avoidable and in these situations, where appropriate, compensation might be able to be claimed on a no win, no fee basis.
Hart Brown Solicitors has been providing trusted legal advice to families across Surrey for more than 100 years. To speak to an expert in our Clinical Negligence department, please contact Gerard Sanders or Mark Wisby on 01483 887766, start a live chat or send us an email today.
*This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.