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Inadequate Stitching After Childbirth

Inadequate Stitching After Childbirth

A perineal tear during childbirth can be painful and distressing but a prompt, effective repair will help the mother to recover and focus on her child. An inadequate repair can lead to years of discomfort.

Why might stitches be necessary after childbirth?

It might be necessary for a new mother to have stitches immediately after childbirth for a number of reasons. This may be in the maternity ward if the cut or tear is small and uncomplicated, or in an operating theatre if a more severe tear has occurred.

  • The doctor or midwife may have carried out an episiotomy during the birth in order to make it easier for the baby to emerge from the vagina. An episiotomy is a deliberate cut across the perineum (the area between the vagina and the anus) which needs repairing after the birth.
  • The mother may have experienced a natural 2nd degree tear, affecting the skin and muscle of the perineum, which may be stitched by the midwife in the maternity ward
  • The mother may have experienced a 3rd or 4th degree severe tear which requires repair in an operating theatre by a skilled surgeon. A 3rd or 4th degree tear affects the anus as well as the perineum.

What can happen if stitches are inadequate?

If the stitching does not repair the entire length of the tear, the effects for the mother can be painful and distressing, requiring further surgery to attempt a more effective repair.

Inadequate stitches or repair can lead to the following:

  • On-going infections in the genital area
  • Pain when sitting and walking
  • The development of a fistula (hole) between the anus and vagina which can cause wind incontinence and leakage of faeces this may additionally lead to the need for a colostomy
  • Pain and difficulty with sexual intercourse

Why would this happen?

This unfortunate scenario is most likely to occur when your tear is misdiagnosed. If no examination is carried out after the birth or if the assessment is inadequate and does not include a digital examination of the anus, then a 3rd or 4th degree tear may be missed. If the mother is losing a lot of blood following the birth, it may be difficult to identify the grade of tear experienced. In these circumstances, the medical practitioner will not be aware that a surgical repair is necessary and may only repair the cut across the perineum.

What should happen?

Ideally, there should be a thorough examination of the mother immediately after the birth.

If there are signs of a 3rd or 4th degree tear, the mother should be taken to an operating theatre where a full surgical repair would take place under local or general anaesthetic. She should be given antibiotics to reduce the chances of infection during recovery from surgery. She should also be given advice as to self-care once she returns home.

Medical Negligence

Where a severe tear is completely missed, or misdiagnosed, or where the repair does not deal with the entire extent of the tear, the patient may be the victim of medical negligence.

The effects of an unrepaired perineal tear can be both long-term and life-changing. Compensation can help to deal with these effects.

Contact Glynns Solicitors to discuss your circumstances with a solicitor. We have extensive experience of supporting victims of perineal trauma.

Please call us on 0800 234 3300 (or from a mobile 01275 334030) or complete our Online Enquiry Form.

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