While many are not familiar with the medical complication known as a “uterine rupture,” country music star Walker Hayes and his wife, Laney, recently found out how devastating this occurrence can be. This summer, the two were looking forward to the birth of their seventh child. Yet, a previously undetected weakness in the wall of Laney’s uterus led to a massive tear during the delivery, expelling the baby into the mother’s abdominal cavity where—prematurely disconnected from the placenta and deprived of blood flow from the mother—the baby died.
Uterine Rupture is a rare occurrence in relation to the number of births overall, however, this catastrophic event poses an even greater threat to mothers who have previously given birth via a Cesarean section. Following a C-section the post-birth healing process can lead to surgical scar tissue in the uterine wall. This increases the risk of a later rupture significantly.
A horrific experience that happens to women throughout the United States, the incidence rate of a rupture for women who’ve previously given birth by C-section is as high as 1 in 200 (with 10 percent of ruptures resulting in injury or death to the baby)—according to Dr. Aaron Caughey, the chair of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Oregon Health & Science University. For women with two or more prior Cesarean sections, the American Family Physician reports that the rate of rupture for subsequent deliveries climbs to 1 in 26.
A variety of symptoms are associated with uterine ruptures. These include:
- excessive vaginal bleeding
- sudden pain between contractions
- contractions that become slower or less intense
- abnormal abdominal pain or soreness
- recession of the baby’s head into the birth canal
- bulging under the pubic bone
- sudden pain at the site of a previous uterine scar
- loss of uterine muscle tone
- rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, and shock in the mother
- abnormal heart rate in the baby
- failure of labor to progress naturally
Why is the risk so high and can’t doctors screen for this? While an official diagnosis of a possible uterine rupture can only be made during surgery, women who have previously undergone C-sections are at a higher risk for complications during future deliveries due to the resulting scar tissue at the prior incision point. A doctor who fails to properly diagnose or treat a ruptured uterus could be liable of medical malpractice or for misdiagnosis of the condition.
For more information from Bailey and Greer about the risk of uterine rupture for an expectant mother and what actions one should take to prevent a rupture, click here. For those who have experienced a rupture, or worse, the loss of a child, it is worth speaking with an experienced lawyer such as the attorneys with Bailey and Greer—we are always available to help with more information or a free consultation. Feel free to contact us via our website or call 901-475-7434.
Thomas Greer is a Memphis, TN personal injury trial attorney with Bailey & Greer. He has extensive trial experience in both state and federal court. Thomas has obtained multiple million dollar verdicts and settlements throughout his career. Thomas lives in Memphis with his wife and four daughters.