It may be that you have been advised by your doctor to have a caesarean to deliver your baby, or you may have chosen an elective caesarean instead. If you feel you have been advised incorrectly or a caesarean section has resulted in injury to yourself or your baby, you may be entitled to make a claim for financial damages.

According to the NHS, 20% and 25% of mothers have a caesarean section delivery. Although it is not recommended by doctors unless deemed necessary for medical reasons, you do have the right to request a caesarean section, providing you fully understand the risks and benefits of all your options and the impact that having a caesarean section may have on future births. In some cases where your consultant does not support your decision to have a caesarean section, you can ask to be referred to another consultant or, if necessary, another maternity unit.

It is important doctors have your informed consent as to how the baby will be delivered. Without this, it would constitute negligence, unless you were unable to provide your consent, for example if you were unconscious.

A caesarean section is a major operation and it is important to be aware that complications can include:

  • Infection
  • Blood clots
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Damage to the ureter or bladder
  • Temporary breathing difficulties for the baby
  • Infection of the wound or womb lining
  • Accidentally cutting the baby when your womb is opened

A vaginal birth is not risk free either and this list is not exhaustive.  It is no substitute for a proper discussion with your consultant as everybody is different, including individual risks and wishes.  For instance, the risk to one mother of developing blood clots can be very different to another, depending on their medical and social history.

Your obstetrician should discuss with you the mode of delivery in good time so that you are well-equipped to make an informed decision as to what is right for you and your baby. The proximity to birth will dictate the detail of the discussion, so it is recommended that the mode of delivery is given early consideration so that you may discuss your options and have time to think about it.

Weighing up how to bring new life into this world at the 11th hour whilst: in pain, sleep-deprived, on strong medication and anxious is best avoided.

If you feel that you your consultant has been negligent with their care or you were not appropriately consented to the mode of delivering your baby and suffered an injury as a result you may be able to pursue a claim. Please contact our expert clinical negligence team to discuss your potential case today.

Useful Reading

For further reading, here are some useful resources on elective caesarean delivery:

The most recent Guidelines are the NICE Caesarean Section Guidelines (November 2011) which can be found here.

The guidelines have been usefully distilled into an information leaflet entitled “Choosing to have a caesarean section” which was developed by the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists, (July 2015) Patient Information Committee, a copy of which can be found here.

Changes to the NICE Guidelines have been proposed following a review in 2017 which can be found here. However, they do not change the landscape, but rather emphasise the importance of obtaining Informed Consent which has been long-established if not widely observed.

Department of Health and GMC guides to assist medical professionals as to how to obtain informed consent through decision making can be found here and here.

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