Epidurals used during labor and delivery are a relatively safe way to reduce the pain of childbirth. However, when administered incorrectly or with an incorrect dosage, the baby could suffer harm. This is in addition to any ill effects, allergic reactions, or other problems the laboring mother may have.
In the vast majority of cases, an epidural is a safe and effective way to reduce or eliminate pain during delivery. However, there are birth injury risks associated with epidurals. When a doctor or other medical care provider acts negligently, however, the infant could get too much of the drug in their system leading to side effects and preventable birth injuries.
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Epidural Drugs Can Affect the Infant if Given Incorrectly
When a mother receives an epidural, they should get enough medication to block nerve signals and pain without affecting the baby too much. If there is a problem with the epidural or dosage, however, it could expose the baby to higher doses of the drug than it should.
This exposure could cause significant birth injuries such as problems latching to feed and other breastfeeding concerns.
An improperly administered epidural can also prolong labor and delivery in some cases. This could mean the baby spends longer moving into, through, and out of the birth canal. Delivering the baby could require the doctor to use forceps or a vacuum extractor device, further increasing the risk of a serious birth injury.
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Epidurals Are Generally Safe, as Long as Doctors Administer Them Correctly
Any time a pregnant woman takes any type of medication during pregnancy, labor, or delivery, the medication travels through her bloodstream, through the umbilical cord, and to the baby. This includes the drugs used to provide pain relief via epidural. With proper use, the amount of these drugs that reach the baby is small. They do enter the infant’s system, but there are no known-long term disadvantages to a properly administered epidurally.
Even though the delivery process can take longer when a woman has an epidural, this difference is usually not significant. It only becomes a problem when there is an additional complication, often one the doctor should have identified beforehand by monitoring the pregnancy and early labor. All too often, doctors try to deliver newborns vaginally when a cesarean section (C-section) delivery would be safer.
Diagnosing Birth Injuries Related to an Epidural
Babies who receive too much epidural medication may seem drugged, with low APGAR scores, trouble feeding, and general grogginess. As the drugs wear off, they should return to normal. If there was a brain injury or another serious injury, the signs may not be apparent immediately.
Many children with relatively mild cognitive delays, behavioral issues, or learning disabilities may have suffered a brain injury before, during, or just after birth, but the condition is unknown until they struggle to sit still, focus, or keep up with their peers in school.
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Birth Injury Lawsuits
If your child suffered a birth injury after an improper epidural or another medical mistake, your family may have grounds to pursue damages through a birth injury claim or medical malpractice lawsuit. To learn more about your options and for a free case evaluation, you should discuss your case with a birth injury attorney in your state who knows about the birth injury risks associated with epidurals. They can help you understand:
- Your right to pursue compensation
- The strength of your birth injury case
- The types of damages you may be eligible to recover
- What it takes to prove your birth injury case in your state
- Any deadlines that apply to your case based on your state’s laws
If your attorney decides you have a strong enough case to go after an out-of-court settlement or courtroom verdict, they will take on your case based on contingency. This means you will pay nothing out-of-pocket and the attorney will only get paid if or when you win a payout.
Your attorney will know the types of evidence necessary to prove a birth injury case in your state and will likely have a network of trusted physicians and other care providers who can testify to help you prove:
- The acceptable standard of care in your case
- If your doctor failed to provide an acceptable standard of care
- When and how your doctor committed medical malpractice
- Your child’s prognosis
- The likely ongoing and future care your child will require
Most states require a medical expert witness to help prove medical malpractice. This is one reason why it is important to work with a medical malpractice attorney in your state.
Talk to a Birth Injury Attorney About Your Case
The Birth Injury Lawyers Group can connect you with a birth injury medical malpractice attorney near you. By setting up a free case review and talking to an attorney in your state, you can learn more about your legal options and get started going after the payout you need and deserve today.
Call (800) 222-9529 to get started.