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Investigating how often birth injuries to mothers are missed by health professionals

View profile for Parbeen Alamgir
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Childbirth is the mark the of a new life. However, the joy of welcoming a newborn can sometimes be shadowed by injuries to the mother that could have been avoided. What is less well-known is the frequency at which these injuries go undiagnosed, raising questions about the awareness, diagnosis, and prevention of such complications. In this article, we delve into the types of injuries that can occur, identify the most commonly misdiagnosed injuries, explore what mothers should do if injuries go undiagnosed, and discuss preventative measures for ensuring timely and accurate diagnosis. 


Types of injuries suffered during childbirth 

Childbirth is a complex physiological process, and injuries can occur due to various factors. Some common types of injuries include perineal tears, vaginal lacerations, and uterine ruptures. Perineal tears, for instance, are often associated with the stretching of the perineum during delivery. Vaginal lacerations may occur due to the pressure exerted during childbirth. Uterine ruptures, though less common, can pose severe risks to both the mother and the baby. Understanding the nature and potential consequences of these injuries is crucial for their prompt identification and treatment. 

You can read more about how often mothers are injured during childbirth here. (add link once other article is live) 


Most commonly misdiagnosed injuries and why 

Despite advancements in medical technology and expertise, certain childbirth injuries are more prone to misdiagnosis. Perineal tears, particularly those of a lower degree, can be overlooked in the postpartum period. The subtlety of symptoms or inadequate postpartum care may contribute to this oversight. Additionally, internal injuries such as uterine ruptures might not present immediate, obvious symptoms, leading to delayed or missed diagnoses. Miscommunication or lack of coordination amongst healthcare professionals during the chaotic moments of childbirth can further exacerbate the chances of misdiagnosis. 


How often are birth injuries to mothers undiagnosed? 

The frequency of undiagnosed birth injuries to mothers is a matter of significance. While precise statistics may vary, studies indicate that a notable percentage of these injuries go undetected during the immediate postpartum period. As an example, research suggests that up to 41% of women may suffer undiagnosed pelvic floor muscle damage and up to 30% may suffer from undiagnosed pelvic fractures from childbirth. Other studies have found that: 


What patients should do if injuries go undiagnosed 

Discovering that childbirth injuries have gone undiagnosed can be distressing for mothers. In such cases, prompt action is crucial. Firstly, mothers should seek a second opinion from a qualified healthcare professional. This may involve consulting another obstetrician or gynaecologist to ensure a fresh perspective on the situation. Communicating openly with healthcare professional about concerns and symptoms is also vital, as it can facilitate a more accurate diagnosis and appropriate intervention. In cases of severe or persistent symptoms, seeking legal advice may be necessary to explore potential compensation. 


How to prevent injuries from going undiagnosed 

Preventing childbirth injuries from going undiagnosed requires an extensive approach, involving both healthcare professionals and expectant mothers. Some key aspects include enhancing patient education and ensuring all testing and examinations are carried out correctly. Mothers should be informed about the potential injuries associated with childbirth, the symptoms to watch out for, and the importance of postpartum care. Regular and thorough postpartum check-ups are essential, allowing healthcare providers to identify and address any complications promptly. Open communication channels between healthcare professionals and patients can also contribute to a more accurate and timely diagnosis. 

Moreover, expectant mothers should be proactive in monitoring their own wellbeing and report any concerns or symptoms they might be feeling to a healthcare professional. Understanding what is normal during the postpartum period and recognising deviations from the norm can empower mothers to seek medical attention when needed. Engaging in prenatal classes that cover postpartum care and potential complications can further equip mothers with the knowledge to navigate the post-birth period confidently. 



Childbirth is a transformative experience, but the occurrence of undiagnosed injuries to mothers is a concerning issue that demands attention. By understanding the types of injuries, recognising the most misdiagnosed ones, knowing what to do if injuries go undiagnosed, and adopting preventative measures, both healthcare professionals and expectant mothers can contribute to a safer and more informed childbirth experience. Increased awareness, open communication, and proactive healthcare practices are key elements in ensuring that no mother goes unnoticed in the aftermath of childbirth.