A Mother’s Right to Choose How to Give Birth

Posted on: January 4th, 2017

An inquest has been hearing details about a mother who died after initially being denied a caesarean section during labour.

After enduring difficulties during her first pregnancy, the mother had been advised that next time she should avoid a natural birth. Following this advice, an elective caesarean was booked, but she went into labour two days prior to this happening. During labour and despite her prior request, she was told by the midwives not to make a decision to undergo a caesarean “based on pain and fear”. However, following heavy bleeding, an emergency caesarean was belatedly carried out. Unfortunately, the surgeon carrying out the operation left part of the placenta behind and she later died due to the amount of blood that she had lost.

Such a tragic case raises a number of issues, including a mother’s right to choose to deliver her baby in the way that she wants, which includes being entitled to a caesarean section. Following the landmark case of Montgomery, doctors are required to give patients all of the available information to allow the patient to give informed consent. In this instance, if such information had been given to the mother then based on her previous request for a caesarean section, it would appear likely that she would have wanted a caesarean section to be carried out as soon as possible.

A second point is over the monitoring that is carried out by medical staff both prior and during labour. Before any decisions are taken as to how a pregnancy should proceed, a thorough and proper risk assessment should take place. It would appear that in this instance, despite such assessments taking place prior to labour, the midwives were either not aware of the recommendations or did not follow them.

At Coffin Mew we specialise in clinical negligence claims, especially those resulting in injuries during labour. This can include brain injury to the child, significant injuries to the mother or, as in this tragic case, the death of the mother. We see on a regular basis the impact that such injuries can have on people’s lives and we do our upmost to investigate each case to provide answers to the many questions that they have.