Preterm or premature labor typically occurs when a mother experiences regular uterine contractions and related cervical changes early in her pregnancy. A “term” pregnancy, is typically considered to be at forty weeks gestation.
Preterm or premature labor is recognized as being one of the major causes of injury and death to prematurely delivered babies.
Because of this, a safe and careful obstetrician will try to stop preterm or premature labor so that the pregnancy can continue for as long as it is reasonably safe.
One method typically used by safe and careful obstetricians to manage preterm or premature labor is the administration of certain medications known as tocolytics. The goal of tocolytic therapy is to limit or stop uterine contractions to prevent any dilation or opening of the cervix.
In addition to the administration of tocolytics to prevent or limit uterine contractions, safe and careful obstetricians also frequently administer steroids to any mother who is experiencing preterm or premature labor. The administration of such steroidal agents, such as Betamethasone, are recognized as being beneficial in helping the baby’s lungs to mature, thereby significantly reducing the risk of Hyaline Membrane Disease or Respiratory Distress Syndrome if the baby is delivered prematurely.
In addition to the administration of medications, safe and careful obstetricians often advise women who are experiencing preterm or premature labor to maintain strict bed rest. This may be done either at home or in the hospital depending upon the level of surveillance and care required.
Many women who experience preterm or premature labor have a condition known as an “incompetent cervix.” An incompetent cervix is characterized by the premature but painless dilation or opening of the cervix.
Generally, an incompetent cervix indicates that the cervix may be too weak to safely maintain the rigors of labor.
Unless proper medical treatment of the incompetent cervix is obtained, it may result in preterm or premature labor and the resultant labor of a premature infant.
The most typical treatment for an incompetent cervix is a “cerclage,” where a suture or stitch is placed into the cervix to give it more strength.
The failure to perform a cerclage on a woman with an incompetent cervix often directly leads to preterm or premature labor and the birth of a premature infant.
The Law Firm of Dugan, Babij, Tolley & Kohler, LLC has extensive experience in representing families whose loved ones have died or been injured as a result of medical malpractice associated with the management of a patient with preterm or premature labor.