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Anesthesia in childbirth: What are the risks?

On Behalf of | Aug 17, 2023 | Injuries, Wrongful Death

Meeting a baby for the first time can be such a life-changing experience that even the most indifferent person might feel incredibly emotional. Getting there, however, is a challenge. Childbirth can bring such intense pain that many mothers cannot survive without anesthesia. Sadly, a lot can go wrong during labor, and anesthesia complications are among them.

The risks of using an epidural in childbirth

Enduring intense pressure on the lower back and painful labor contractions for long hours can feel like torture without any form of anesthesia.

About 70-75% of women use an epidural for pain relief. Other forms of anesthesia include spinal, local anesthesia, IV sedation or general anesthesia. Because pregnant mothers already have to endure many life-threatening complications, using anesthesia may introduce additional risks.

The body goes through various changes during pregnancy, which may affect how it responds to anesthesia. As a result, any mistakes when administering anesthesia can put the mother and child’s life in danger or result in severe health conditions.

Risks to the mother include:

  • Blood clots
  • Aspiration pneumonia
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)
  • Pulmonary edema
  • Miscarriage

Babies may also develop issues such as cerebral palsy or congenital birth defects. However, anesthesia-related complications hardly ever result in deaths.

Proceed with caution

During labor, pregnant mothers entrust their life to the medical team. Before going through any surgical procedures, doctors must inform their patients of what will happen and the possible risks.

Naturally, doctors and their teams are expected to do everything they can to minimize risks and ensure that all goes well. Any negligence on their part may cause the mother and her family damages and suffering.

Doctors may commit anesthesia-related mistakes by:

  • Failing to diagnose the mother or baby’s condition
  • Failing to monitor the mother and baby’s heartbeat
  • Administering the wrong dosage of anesthesia
  • Failing to inject the anesthesia properly
  • Failing to warn the mother about the risks

Mothers should not have to pay for mistakes that could have been prevented by providing quality care. Moreover, the complications that result from negligence during childbirth may be irreversible. Families who experience medical malpractice may obtain legal advice from a lawyer on seeking compensation for their suffering.