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Delay in Taking to Hospital or Calling 911

Waiting Too Long To Seek Medical Attention Can Have Serious Consequences

Knowing and understanding signs of labor and getting yourself to the hospital in a timely manner can help prevent serious injury to both you and your baby. You are giving your birthing team time to monitor and prepare you for childbirth as well as to watch for signs of distress that may signal a need for an emergency C-section.

If you have opted for a home birth, a delay in calling 911 once labor complications require medical attention can be deadly. Your midwife, doula or other birthing professional should know the signs of fetal distress, recognize a failure to progress and move the birth to an appropriate hospital in a timely manner in order to prevent serious birth injuries to the infant or mother.

Common Reasons That Lead To A Delay In Going To The Hospital

Braxton hicks contractions – sometimes called 'fake contractions' or 'practice contractions' – are typically irregular and are not a sign that you are going into labor. Pregnant mothers may experience varying levels of pain from Braxton hicks contractions beginning in the second trimester. You should consult with your obstetrician if you are in pain during pregnancy to confirm that you are experiencing Braxton hicks contractions and that the pain is not caused by another problem.

Real contractions are regular when compared to Braxton hicks contractions in both duration and spacing. In general, women are told to come to the hospital when they begin experiencing strong, regular contractions that are about five minutes apart and last about a minute each. Your doctor may have advised you to come in sooner or to call the hospital at a different point; you should follow your doctor's instructions.

Recognizing Serious Complications During A Homebirth And Requesting Transfer

According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), 25,000 babies are born at home each year. There are strong reasons for and against choosing homebirth that should be carefully considered during pregnancy. Many babies are born at home with no complications; some are not. Many mothers will have no problems with a home delivery; others will have serious, life-threatening issues.

Recognizing when a homebirth is no longer safe and calling 911 or moving delivery to a hospital is key to protecting the life and health of both the mother and the baby. Depending on far you live from the nearest birthing hospital, a homebirth may not be a safe option for you.

Complications that can arise during a homebirth that may indicate the need to transfer to a hospital include:

  • Slow progression of the baby once labor has begun
  • Severe bleeding during or after delivery
  • Failure to fully pass the placenta
  • Substantial amounts of meconium in birthing fluids

If an emergency C-section becomes necessary at any point during a homebirth, 911 should be called immediately to take the mother to the hospital. A hospital transfer is not a failure by the mother. There are certain circumstances that require sophisticated medical equipment in order to prevent life-threatening or life-altering birth injuries.

Your Healthcare Professional And Your Legal Rights

You should be able to trust the person whom you've chosen to deliver your baby, whether he or she is an obstetrician, midwife or other birthing professional. Discussing the possibility of complications during labor and evaluating whether you have any symptoms indicative of a prolonged or difficult labor can help both you and your chosen provider be prepared to handle any situation that arises during delivery.

When your childbirth team lets you down, you may have legal options. That's where The Birth Injury Team comes in. Our team of medical and legal professionals can evaluate what happened to you and your baby and whether a medical mistake or hospital negligence is to blame for any injuries. We can advise you who may be held responsible for a birth injury and can represent you in a malpractice lawsuit against your doctor, if appropriate.

The Birth Injury Team is a subsidiary of Silvers, Langsam & Weitzman, P.C., made up of experienced attorneys and medical professionals. Our lawyers have more than 100 years of combined experience handling birth injury cases. We are dedicated to helping parents understand their child's condition and guiding them through the process of securing the care and support they need. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients across the United States.


Located in Philadelphia, Silvers, Langsam & Weitzman, P.C., home of MyPhillyLawyer, serves clients in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, and throughout the United States.

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