All midwives have a duty of care to you and your child during pregnancy and the birth of your child. Unfortunately, they can sometimes make mistakes that may have severe consequences for both you and your child.
In England and Wales, there were 657,076 live births in 2018. While the majority go smoothly and without incident, when birth negligence occurs it can result in babies and mothers being harmed.
If you or your child have suffered harm due to negligence, you may be able to bring a claim with Leigh Day.
What is midwife negligence?
Midwife negligence happens when a mistake made by a midwife, or midwives, results in injury or illness for you or your child. The nature of a midwife’s role means even a small error can have serious consequences.
It can happen during pregnancy, labour and after birth.
- Problems can arise during pregnancy when serious conditions in mother and baby are not diagnosed or properly treated.
- Injuries can be caused as a result of the mismanagement of labour and birth, such as failures to properly monitor the baby’s heart rate during labour
- After the birth, failure to diagnose and act on signs of infection or jaundice in a baby.
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What period does midwife negligence cover?
You may be able to make a claim for midwife negligence when there has been a breach of duty of care from your midwife during your pregnancy, delivery or after birth including care received in the community after discharge from the hospital.
What conditions can midwife negligence cause in babies?
Cases of medical negligence during birth could lead to babies suffering from:
- Cerebral palsy – In the UK, around one in 400 babies born have a type of cerebral palsy. Oxygen starvation during birth is the most common cause of the condition. Midwives failing to act on problems with the baby's heart rate or mothers vital signs during labour can also cause cerebral palsy.
- Erb’s palsy – when, after delivery of the head, the baby's anterior shoulder gets caught above the mother's pubic bone (shoulder dystocia). Failing to identify this can stretch or tear nerves in the baby'sa neck during delivery, leading to paralysis or lack of muscle control in the arm, hand or wrist.
- Brain injury – Trauma to the baby’s head during birth can cause damage such as the loss of mobility, speech and other functions.
- Stillbirth or death of baby - Stillbirths can happen for many reasons. One of these might be midwife neglect.
For the mother, negligence can cause injuries such as:
- Perineal lacerations and 3/4th degree tears
- Post-partum haemorrhage
- Uterine rupture
- Emotional trauma
Making a midwife negligence claim
To make a claim, get in touch with our expert team of medical negligence lawyers to discuss your case. We’ll listen to your story, review whether you have a claim and advise you on the next steps.
If possible, gather any medical records, reports, witness statements and financial documents to use as supporting evidence for your claim.
In respect of injuries to mother you usually have three years from the date of the negligence or birth if that is the date of the negligence or in some cases three years from the date you became aware that midwife negligence caused injury to you. In respect of a child you have three years from the child’s eighteenth birthday.
Midwife negligence compensation
In successful midwife negligence cases, you will receive compensation to cover the costs of injuries to both the mother and/or the baby, which can include:
- Treatment costs – both for past and future treatment resulting from negligence
- Ongoing support – covering care for babies with cerebral palsy or other conditions
- Loss of earnings – any money lost through changes to your work
- Emotional trauma – to compensate for the mental pain you experience
The amount of midwife negligence or traumatic birth compensation you receive will depend on the severity of the injuries to you and/or your child suffer. You may be able to bring a case against the hospital or an individual, if treatment if received from a private midwife.
Why choose Leigh Day?
Our team of midwife negligence solicitors have more than 35 years’ experience in the field. We have represented a broad range of clients, securing millions in compensation.
"Olive Lewin is completely committed to her clients and is highly experienced." - Chambers and partner 2019
Olive Lewin is accredited by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers as a Senior Litigator, and as a specialist clinical negligence lawyer by Action against Medical Accidents. She is a former nurse and has specialised in this area of work for more than 25 years.
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Midwife negligence FAQs
You can claim against the trust responsible for the hospital employing the midwife or an individual midwife. Whom you contact and what you need to do to claim will depend on where you received care.
Follow our guide to making NHS complaints for more information.
Midwives are responsible for postpartum care for between 10 and 28 days after birth. When your baby is healthy, this is usually between 10 and 14 days. Many midwives now work in hospitals, GP surgeries and make home visits. Depending on whether you have one assigned midwife or different ones will affect whom you see after birth.
A traumatic birth can cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in some cases. Around 30,000 women in the UK experience a traumatic birth. This can include physical injuries to you or your baby during labour and emotional trauma such as feeling scared or not looked after.
Birth trauma can make it hard for some women to bond with their baby. Symptoms of PTSD include:
•Heightened sense of anxiety
•Avoiding anything related to the birth
•Feeling on high alert
Yes, you can claim for your child three years after they reached the age of 18. This means you can recover and manage compensation to support their care requirements depending on any injuries sustained.
You may also be able to claim traumatic birth compensation for your wife or partner if they are in no fit state to do so after the event.