On January 4, 2010, a Fort Drum woman went into labor in her home. By the time that emergency responders arrived, the woman was in labor and the baby was crowning. The baby was delivered in a bathtub and was taken to Samaritan Medical Center in Watertown, New York, for care including difficulty breathing.
Precipitate delivery, which is any labor and delivery lasting less than 2 hours, can be dangerous for the mother and fetus. Generally, a precipitate delivery involves almost constant contractions that may be very intense. The rapid contractions make it difficult for a laboring mother to find a rhythm, and subject the fetus to constant pressure which can lead to umbilical cord compression and inadequate blood flow. Compromised blood flow may lead to low fetal oxygen levels and acidosis. Acidosis can lead to fetal brain damage and lifelong disabilities such as cerebral palsy.
Rapidly born babies also have insufficient time to adjust to life outside the womb and may require assistance with breathing. Many precipitate delivery babies are born with broken blood vessels, which may appear as red spots on the skin or burst blood vessels in the whites of the eyes. Precipitate delivery may also be associated with vaginal and perineum tears, as well as birth trauma, such as delivery of a baby onto the ground or other hard surface leading to lacerations and fractures. A tumble to the ground may also lead to umbilical cord snapping and delayed delivery of the placenta. A torn umbilical cord or late placental delivery can lead to maternal hemorrhaging.
The failure to anticipate a precipitate labor may be due to medical malpractice or hospital negligence. While precipitate labor is difficult to anticipate, their are warnings signs or risk factors, including: a multipara mother with relaxed pelvic or perineal floor muscles and/or a multipara mother with a history of strong contractions.
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