Was your baby born prematurely or not all due to premature birth caused by cervical insufficiency?
Cervical incompetence (also known as “cervical insufficiency”) occurs when the tissues that make up the cervix are too weak to support the duration of pregnancy in most situations, leading to premature birth. It can also lead to the loss of a healthy pregnancy in the early stages.
The cervix is the lower area of the uterus that opens to the vagina. It should be closed and is often firm in how it feels. The cervix will begin to soften throughout your pregnancy in order to prepare your body for birth. The cervix will also decrease in length (which is called “effacing”), and it should begin to open or dilate.
An incompetent cervix could mean that it opens sooner than the 40-week gestational period that is considered normal for pregnancy. If the cervix begins to open too soon, then it could trigger premature labor. If your baby isn’t developed enough, then it might mean your baby will have to spend time in the NICU to finish developing. In the worst-case scenario, the baby could be lost due to being born too early.
Can cervical insufficiency be diagnosed and treated?
It’s sometimes difficult to diagnose an incompetent cervix until it’s too late. Your doctor can look at your medical history to see if there have been issues with your cervix in the past that might indicate incompetence during pregnancy. If so, then they can prescribe certain medications to strengthen your cervix during pregnancy to prevent it from opening prematurely. If your cervix does open, then medications can sometimes be prescribed to help prevent you from going into labor. Bed rest is a common treatment for this condition.
Keep in mind that you might need to stay in the hospital until your baby has had more time to develop. In the meantime, ultrasounds can be performed to monitor your baby. Vaginal ultrasounds can also be performed to get a better look at the cervix and uterus to try to stay on top of any issues that might develop. Cerclage can be used as well, which is a procedure where sutures are used to keep the cervix closed as long as possible.
Common symptoms of cervical incompetence
While it can sometimes be difficult to diagnose an incompetent cervix, there are a few symptoms that you might notice if the issue occurs. These symptoms tend to show up early in the pregnancy. For example, you might experience spotting that seems like it’s from a typical period, or you might experience discomfort or cramps. Pelvic pressure is a common symptom, as well as vaginal discharge.
Factors that contribute to cervical insufficiency
While cervical incompetence is something that can just happen for no apparent reason, there are few risk factors involved that can increase your chances of dealing with this condition. Trauma to the cervix can make the tissue weaker, which can be caused by past surgeries. Sometimes, a tear during a previous labor and delivery can result in incompetence during a future pregnancy.
Research also suggests that cervical incompetence appears to be more prevalent in black women, though the cause has not been identified. Disorders that impact the reproductive system can also be a risk factor. These include proteins that impact the collagen or conditions that impact the estrogen levels in the body.
Prevention of cervical incompetence
If you have been diagnosed with this condition, it’s important for your doctor to monitor your health, as well as that of your growing baby. Try to eat a healthy diet so that your baby has all of the proper nutrients to develop in the event that you do have a premature birth. You’ll want to manage your weight gain, as well. Try not to gain too much weight as this could result in a baby that is too large to fit through the birth canal. Most importantly, avoid any substances that can put your baby at risk, such as drinking or smoking.
Did medical negligence play a role?
While cervical insufficiency can be an uncontrollable and unpreventable phenomenon, there are situations that can result in cervical incompetence that are no fault of your own. For example, if your doctor sees any signs of this condition early in the pregnancy and does nothing to try to prevent the cervix from opening too soon, then it could be considered malpractice. If your doctor doesn’t properly monitor your health and the condition occurs, then it could result in losing your baby or premature birth, which could have been prevented.
If you feel that your pregnancy could have been saved or if your baby was injured due to a premature birth that could have been prevented, then consider talking to a birth injury attorney Laura Brown as soon as possible.
In order to build a strong case, we will need ample medical records and other evidence in order to review the steps that took place during your pregnancy—including if the proper tests were administered. We can also look at other possible cases that the same doctor handled to see if you are the only one who experienced this issue.
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