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Pelvic Floor Injury During Birth Can Be Life Altering

Posted on April 15, 2024

Each year, nearly one in 10 women require surgery due to a pelvic floor birth injury, yet these devastating injuries are preventable, reported a recent article in Michigan Medicine. The authors cited a new technology that can help provide critical information to obstetricians, midwives, and patients so they can help prevent pelvic floor conditions associated with childbirth.

During a vaginal birth, a woman’s levator muscle must stretch to more than three times its original length. Since this muscle holds the organs in place, if it tears or breaks, there could be problems. Pelvic floor prolapse means the muscle and tissues holding the uterus, bladder or rectum can fail, causing discomfort and incontinence. Organs may protrude from the vaginal opening. Women may experience symptoms such as leaking when laughing, coughing, or exercising, as well as impaired sexual function.

One in four women suffer from these conditions, and one in five will require surgery to correct them. However, there are effective ways to treat, and even prevent, pelvic floor birth injuries, according to a Michigan Medicine-led review in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Michigan Medical, in close collaboration with the University of Michigan, has developed a 3D stress MRI which simulates birth and can identify a woman’s risk of pelvic floor prolapse. The 3D computer model can be used to help make decisions on a vaginal vs. Caesarean section birth. 

The authors recommend that providers educate their patients about their individual risks prior to birth. Larger babies, older mothers, and forceps delivery can contribute to increased risk for pelvic floor injuries. There also are steps that can be taken during labor, such as the birth canal being pre-stretched gradually to reduce the likelihood of injury. Providers can do an ultrasound and MRI following birth to diagnose any damage, rather than waiting for pelvic floor issues to arise years later. Physical therapy also may be prescribed.

While many things can complicate pregnancy, some birth injuries arise solely from human error, or things that could have been prevented. Tom Duffy has recovered birth injury settlements in excess of $20,000,000. If you would like to speak with a top Philadelphia birth injury attorney in Philadelphia, contact us to learn more.