A Nationwide Birth Injury Resource

Delayed C-Sections and Birth Injury

A caesarean section (c-section) is a major surgery, and like all surgery, it carries risks. It's understandable that doctors and mothers alike want to avoid surgical deliveries whenever possible. Sometimes, a c-section is needed to protect the baby's health - and hesitating to order one can lead to a serious birth injury, such as cerebral palsy.

Standards of care and caesarean deliveries

Labor and delivery is a complex and difficult process, and doctors need to make split-second decisions. We don't expect doctors to be perfect, but we do expect them to follow established standards of care. Under some circumstances, the standard of care is to order an immediate c-section. For example, a c-section should generally be ordered if:

  • Baby is in the breech position (feet first)
  • The uterus ruptures
  • The baby is in distress (not getting enough oxygen)
  • The mother has preeclampsia
  • There is a problem with the placenta, such as placental abruption
  • The baby has a medical condition that makes vaginal delivery unsafe
  • The mother has an active herpes outbreak or other infection that could be transmitted to the baby during a vaginal birth

Sometimes, a c-section is delayed because a doctor fails to monitor the baby's heart rate or other signs of distress during labor. In other cases, potential signs are ignored, or the doctor hesitates, trying to avoid surgery even though it is clearly medically indicated. In either case, serious injuries, including brain injuries, can result.

A delayed c-section is often evidence of medical negligence on the part of an obstetrician or other medical professional, and when that happens, families have legal options. The best course of action if you believe a c-section was delayed is to schedule a free consultation with an attorney licensed in your state.