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What you should know about a uterine rupture

If you've had a uterine rupture when you were delivering your child or lost a loved one to a rupture as she was giving birth, it's important to understand what it is and if it could have been prevented. A uterine rupture takes place when part of the uterus, typically the area that has previously had a cesarean section, tears open. With a complete rupture, the tear can go through the layers of the uterine wall and be potentially life-threatening for the mother and child.

Fortunately, there are signs of a uterine rupture that a doctor should be able to recognize. They most commonly happen during early labor, for example, so the doctor should be monitoring the mother for signs and symptoms during that time. Some symptoms to look for include abnormalities in the baby's heart rate, abdominal pain, mothers suffering from a rapid pulse, mothers with signs of shock and unusual vaginal bleeding. Labor may also slow or stop if the rupture occurs.

Most of the time, uterine ruptures take place at the site of a scar that was caused by a previous C-section. This scar can give away under the stress of contractions. It's typically only women who have had C-sections in the past who suffer this serious condition, and anyone who has had a C-section should have a medical team that understands the risk.

If you had a C-section section incision extending from the uterus upward, then you may be at a higher risk of a uterine rupture. Those who had a low transverse uterine incision may still be able to give birth naturally with a lower risk of rupture as long as they are properly monitored. If you aren't monitored and suffer a rupture that requires surgery or results in the loss of your child, you may have a case against your medical team.

Source: BabyCenter, "Uterine rupture," accessed Oct. 25, 2016

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