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Anatomy of a Pregnant Woman


When working on birth injury cases, there is a great deal of anatomy and biological concepts that are important for lawyers to understand. Not only must we be able to communicate with our experts, the doctors who will help us to prove a case, but we must be able to find the holes in the defense case and counter the defense lawyer’s experts. Additionally, we must be able to describe these concepts to a jury in easy-to-understand ways.

The majority of birth injury lawsuits, including cerebral palsy birth injuries, developmental delays, and brachial plexus injuries, occur at or near the time of labor. Here are some important concepts to understand.

  • Placenta: the placenta is an organ in the uterus that is formed and grows with the baby during pregnancy. It is connected to the baby by the umbilical cord, thorough which important nutrients, blood and oxygen are delivered. In the context of maternal and birth injuries, medical providers must be prepared to deal with chorioamnionitis (infection), placenta previa, placental abruption, and uteroplacental insufficiency.
  • Umbilical cord: the umbilical cord is a tube that connects the baby to the placenta. It provides nutrients, blood and oxygen to the baby, and removes waste products and carbon dioxide. Medical providers must be careful to diagnose whether the umbilical cord is wrapped around the baby’s neck during labor (called a nuchal cord), or whether umbilical cord prolapse is limiting oxygen to the baby.
  • Fetus: technically, a fetus is the term used to describe a baby inside the womb from the ninth week to the 38th week (or delivery, whichever is earlier). A fetus is considered full-term at 37 weeks—before that, prematurity can be a problem.
  • Uterus: the uterus is also known as the womb. It is where the fetus grows and develops. It is connected to the fallopian tubes, which deliver a woman’s eggs. It is also connected to the cervix.
  • Amniotic sac: soon after conception, an amniotic sac (“bag of waters”) is created within the uterus. It encloses the baby and is filled with amniotic fluid, which cushions the baby and regulates its temperature. The sac will rupture on its own or through a doctor’s intervention as a precursor to delivery. Doctors can remove a sample of amniotic fluid (called amniocentesis) to test for genetic abnormalities, such as spina bifida and cystic fibrosis.
  • Cervix: the cervix is the lower portion of the uterus (it is Latin for “neck of the womb”). It leads up to the opening of the vagina. During labor the cervix changes and becomes effaced, meaning that it spreads and thins out in preparation for delivery.

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Our birth injury lawyers will be able to obtain the medical records from your hospital stay, and we will be able to use our experience and medical expertise to determine whether your health care providers were negligent during the labor and delivery of your baby. For a no-cost medical review, contact our medical malpractice lawyers at (440) 252-4399 or through our website’s contact form.

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