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What is a uterine rupture and what are the risks?

Expecting mothers across San Diego hope for easy labor and delivery experiences that are safe for both mother and child and that come with as little discomfort as possible. While many mothers are able to bring their children into the world without interventions or extraordinary medical care, some delivery scenarios result in babies being born through caesarian births.

Caesarian sections, also called C-sections, are done when mothers cannot deliver their babies vaginally or when complications arise during the birthing process. A C-section is the surgical removal of the baby from the mother, and requires doctors to cut into the body of the mother for the birth to occur. Most women and children fare very well after C-sections and recover well from their experiences.

However, mothers who undergo C-sections and who then later become pregnant with additional children can face serious complications if they choose to deliver their later children vaginally. Termed a "VBAC," or "vaginal birth after caesarian," a vaginal delivery after a C-section can result in a very serious medical condition called a uterine rupture. As the mother works through the labor process her uterus, weakened from the previous C-section birth, can rupture. The rupture can cause the mother to experience severe bleeding and could cause the unborn infant to receive insufficient oxygen. This could lead to fetal brain damage, or could even cause the infant to die.

Risk factors can suggest if a VBAC may result in a uterine rupture. It is the responsibility of doctors and medical staff who attend to mothers in this delicate situation to monitor them closely for signs of this developing condition. The failure of a medical team to prepare for or recognize a uterine rupture can have deadly consequences for both the woman and her infant.

Although it is possible for a woman to safely deliver a VBAC baby, the endeavor does not come without risks. Medical providers must warn patients of those risks and advise them of how their health may be compromised during the experience. Those who fail in their duties to their patients may be liable to them for their losses under medical malpractice theories of law.

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