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Midwives and Medical Malpractice: What You Need to Know

A route that more expectant parents are taking is opting to use a doula or midwife when going through labor and delivery. During these kinds of births, it is quite rare for an obstetrician to be present, and therefore, potential complications and medical errors can arise without medical professionals on hand to assist. If your doula or midwife acts in a negligent manner, they can be held liable in a malpractice claim by you and a birth injury lawyer if such an injury occurs.

What is the difference between a doula and a midwife?

Not all midwives are created equal. If a midwife lists themselves as a Certified Nurse Midwife or a Certified Professional Midwife, they have been certified by different national professional licensing boards.

If a midwife just calls themselves a lay midwife, they are not professionally certified. However, they can still be quite knowledgeable about pregnancy and prenatal care, as well as the labor and delivery process.

A doula, on the other hand, is a position more reminiscent of a birth coach or a support provider. Doulas may accompany the expectant mother to their home, birthing center, or even a hospital to provide the necessary information and support to the new parents throughout the stages of the birthing process.

A doula is not a medical professional but can still act negligently during labor and delivery and can be held liable if an act of negligence occurs. For this reason, some doulas have started purchasing malpractice liability insurance to protect themselves from a potential claim.

Filing a malpractice claim

If your doula or midwife acted negligently, and that negligence caused either you or your child to suffer some form of injury, you have grounds to cite them in a medical malpractice claim.

An example of this might be that your midwife does not notify a doctor they have a relationship with about fetal signs of distress during the delivery process. If this failure of notification leads to a birth injury for either the mother or the newborn, the midwife could be deemed negligent.

Certified midwives should be able to prevent birth injuries like cerebral palsy, stillbirth, postpartum hemorrhage, and fetal brain damage from occurring in most delivery settings, but human error can result in mistakes.

Deciding whether to work with a midwife or doula

Although there may be elevated risk when choosing to work solely with a doula or midwife, that does not mean it is not a birthing option that should never be considered. If you do choose to work with a doula or midwife, however, you should always make sure that your pregnancy is not high risk enough to need medical supervision from the start.

In addition to this, do substantial research to determine the kinds of medical equipment the service you want to employ uses, as well as the level of care they can provide you with during this vulnerable period.

Also make sure to have contingency plans in place in the event that complications occur, and you need to be taken to the hospital from your home or from your chosen birthing center.

Final thoughts

Not all birth injuries are immediately apparent right after birth. Make sure to keep an eye on your child and watch for potential symptoms of birth injuries. If you believe your child may have one, contact a birth injury lawyer as soon as possible to avoid falling outside of your state’s statute of limitations.

Birth injury lawyers have a great deal of experience in this field and can be helpful when trying to determine whether negligence did, in fact, occur. They will help you obtain medical records as well as help you find the correct experts to evaluate those records and determine whether your midwife or doula was, in fact, negligent and liable for this instance of birth injury. They can also help you stand up to the defendant in court and make your case.

Birth injury lawyers are essential for helping you get the compensation and justice you deserve.