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Doctor Predictions About Birth Weight

Incorrect birth weight predictions can result in birth injuries. According to a recent article in The New York Times, every year thousands of women give birth to a baby whose weight is much different than what the doctor predicted. These erroneous birth weight predictions do have an impact on the process of childbirth and can result in injury.

But do weight predictions ever amount to medical negligence when a mother undergoes an unnecessary cesarean or suffers an injury? Or can patients file medical malpractice claims when doctors do not accurately predict birth weights, and particularly difficult labors ensue?

Cesarean Sections and Birth Weight Predictions

A number of the new mothers interviewed in the article recalled feeling “bullied” to schedule a planned cesarean, or C-section, after learning that they would be giving birth to an especially large baby. For instance, one woman described her ob-gyn’s prediction of a 10-pound baby, and the subsequent advice from her doctor to schedule a cesarean. According to that mother, her doctor “told me my baby could die, used every scare tactic out there.” Another mother remembered her doctors suggesting, “I would probably kill my baby if I tried a natural birth.”

Other women felt as though they did not have a choice in deciding whether or not to have a C-section. For instance, one mother described a childbirth situation in which she was in labor, and she suddenly learned that her baby was much bigger than her doctors initially predicted. As such, she was told that “they would only give me 30 more minutes to try and push the baby out and then I would have to get a C-section.” She recalled, “they didn’t present it as a choice to me.” She ended up having the cesarean, and her baby ended up being of average size—an indication that she may not have needed the C-section, after all.

Pressuring Expectant Mothers to Have C-Sections

According to the article, “doctors pressuring—and even threatening—patients to convince them to agree to a cesarean” appears to be a common problem for new mothers. One mother in California described, for example, a situation in which her doctor told her that she would have to agree to a C-section or else “neither he nor anyone in his practice would assist in delivery.”

Sometimes, when women refuse a C-section, doctors may use other methods to convince them. Notably, many new mothers remembered being “scared into” having a C-section. But psychological or emotional injuries are not the extent of harms resulting from unnecessary C-sections or poorly predicted birth weights. Indeed, many new mothers suffered physically when their doctors failed to predict particularly high birth weights. For instance, one mother described going through an “agonizing” labor in which she delivered her 11-pound baby vaginally. In this case, she believes she should have had a C-section and that her difficult labor resulted from her ob-gyn’s failure to predict the large size of her baby.

In short, some women describe being pressured to have C-sections unnecessarily, while some women recall extremely difficult labors in which feel they should have been offered the option of a cesarean but were not. In each of these situations, one of the key factors is the birth weight of the baby.

Contact a Philadelphia Medical Negligence Lawyer

In some instances, a doctor’s failure to accurately predict birth weight can result in harms to the mother and the baby. If you have questions about filing a medical malpractice claim, you should discuss your case with a Philadelphia medical negligence lawyer as soon as possible. Contact Cohen, Placitella, & Roth, PC to learn more about your options.

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