The process of giving birth pushes the human body to its limits. Women will endure hours or even days of intense, exhausting pain as they try to bring new life into this world.
Sometimes, women need a little help to finish the labor and delivery process. Doctors can assist in many ways, including performing an episiotomy. An episiotomy is a cut made to the perineum, the tissue between the vaginal canal and the rectum. Unfortunately, poorly-performed episiotomies can cause major medical consequences for the mother.
An episiotomy can lead to fecal incontinence or sepsis
The goal of an episiotomy is to slightly enlarge the vaginal opening so that the baby can pass through with minimal tearing. Although it was once a procedure performed in most births, research has since shown that it often increases the risk of infection and the length of recovery after birth. As counterintuitive as it may seem, tearing during birth may actually lead to a quicker healing process than a surgical incision.
Still, some doctors will perform episiotomies in specific situations. The procedure can lead to severe negative consequences if they cut too far or in the wrong place. A misplaced cut could even cause damage to the bowels.
Given the bacteria present in the bowels and rectum, the risk of localized and even systemic infections (sepsis) is very real. Additionally, women could have issues with using the bathroom afterward. In extreme cases, women might even leak fecal matter, which doctors sometimes refer to as fecal incontinence.
Recognizing the signs that a doctor performed an episiotomy improperly can help you decide whether you might have a birth injury claim. If your child’s birth turned into a tragic event because of a physician’s mistake, find out more about your legal options.