Loss of an Unborn Baby (Stillbirth) and Medical Malpractice

Even before a baby takes its first breath, a pregnant mother feels a natural and profound connection with their unborn child. This makes losing a child in pregnancy devastating and heart-wrenching, especially when it could have possibly been saved through better medical care. In the state of New York, a mother whose unborn child dies due to medical malpractice can sue for emotional damages.

Natural Causes vs. Pregnancy Malpractice: Why Do Stillbirths Happen?

Miscarriages in the first trimester are unfortunately common. Ten to twenty percent of women will miscarry before reaching the 12-week mark, most for reasons beyond their or their doctor’s control. However, there are many instances where a doctor’s negligence causes an early miscarriage.

Fetal loss in the second and third trimester is less frequent, but still occurs in about three percent of pregnancies. Sometimes, no cause for a late miscarriage can be found; however, some women have medical conditions or known risk factors that need careful, aggressive medical management in order to maintain their pregnancies. This is where competent quality medical care is crucial for the unborn baby.

Common reasons that late pregnancy loss happens:

Pregnancy loss due to “Incompetent (weakened) cervix”

One of the most common reasons for second trimester fetal loss is what’s called an “incompetent cervix.” Instead of staying firm and thick, a woman’s cervix begins to soften and dilate, causing her to lose the baby. Certain risk factors, such as previous cervical surgery, exposure to DES (a synthetic estrogen), or a previous D&C (dilation and curettage), place a woman at a higher risk for developing an incompetent cervix. Fortunately, an obstetrician can perform a procedure called “cerclage,” where the cervix is sewn shut to support the pregnancy until the baby is safe to deliver. In order for this procedure to work, a physician needs to identify women with known risk factors and place the cerclage at 14-16 weeks gestation. Failure to do so can result in a stillbirth of the baby.

Pre-eclampsia and HELLP

These two dangerous conditions can develop in the second or third trimester and endanger the lives of both mother and child. Pre-eclampsia is a serious pregnancy complication which causes a mother’s blood pressure to shoot up, attacking blood vessels. Women with severe pre-eclampsia can experience headaches, blurred vision, and abdominal pain. When pre-eclampsia progresses unmanaged, the mother is at risk for developing seizures and even dying. In addition, because pre-eclampsia causes the placenta to work less efficiently, the baby may not be getting enough nutrients. Both mother and baby need to be watched much more closely by their medical team, with more frequent check-ups, possible medications, and even hospitalization if necessary.

HELLP usually develops in women who already have pre-eclampsia. It is an emergent, life-threatening condition that requires immediate attention in order to save the mother and the baby.

Pregnancy loss due to Infection

A simple urinary tract infection (UTI) or an untreated STD can cause infection in the uterus and endanger the growing fetus. Proper prenatal care should prevent this from occurring by screening the mother and identifying any risk factors.

Pregnancy loss due to Negligent Procedures

If a doctor performs a uterine or ovarian biopsy on a pregnant woman, not aware that she is pregnant, she can lose her baby. Every doctor has the responsibility to rule out pregnancy with necessary tests before subjecting a woman to such procedures.

Contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers, P.C.

If you suffered a stillbirth or miscarriage, please know that sometimes there are medical reasons for why it could have happened, which can be uncovered to help prevent the same thing from happening again. Every mother and baby should receive attentive, competent medical care so that avoidable stillbirths and miscarriages are prevented. If you suspect that the stillbirth or miscarriage of your baby was due to pregnancy malpractice, or if you simply need more information, please contact our pregnancy loss lawyers at 1-888-575-6410 or fill out our free online contact form for a review of your case.