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Some L & D nurses lack knowledge to support mothers post-birth

A study recently published in The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing (as reported by NPR and ProPublica) reveals a shocking lack of knowledge amongst nursing staff that care for mothers after childbirth. The researchers surveyed hundreds of labor and delivery nurses from hospitals across the country.

The results indicated a systemic lack of knowledge about potential complications from childbirth that could affect mothers after delivery. As a result of their own information shortcomings, these same nurses might fail to properly educate new mothers about potential issues like:

  • Extreme edema (fluid retention can indicate high blood pressure, medication reactions, hormonal swings or other issues)
  • Headaches (epidurals can cause spinal fluid leaks that lead to spinal headaches; these can be blindingly painful, and usually won't resolve without medical treatment)
  • Heavy bleeding (all mothers can suffer some bleeding after delivery, but heavy blood loss can indicate hemorrhaging that could potentially be fatal)
  • Breathing problems (due to anesthesia from C-sections, reactions to pain medication, allergies to latex products or shock can cause lowered blood oxygen levels and breathing difficulties in some new mothers)

Some complications may not set in for hours or even days after birth, and new moms might not know that they differ from normal post-birth symptoms. Unless informed by medical caregivers at the hospital or birth center, a mother could inadvertently wait to get help for a potentially life-threatening condition.

Signs and symptoms that set in quickly after birth are easily missed if medical staff isn't aware of potential issues. Complications can sometimes resolve on their own, but serious problems like maternal hemorrhage or oxygen deprivation mandate immediate intervention.

If you or someone you love suffered injury as a result of the medical malpractice of a labor and delivery professional (a doctor, nurse, midwife, doula or support staff), you may have a legal claim. Contact a local personal injury attorney to learn more.

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