As a parent, one of our primary responsibilities is to protect our children. When our child is injured, we often blame ourselves – even if there was nothing that we could have done to prevent the injury.
In birth injury cases, parents often believe that they could have said or done something differently. While these feelings are normal, it is important to remember that you were not responsible for the outcome. You placed your trust in a medical professional during an incredibly vulnerable time, and it is not your fault that they failed to meet the standard of care.
BILA is an alliance of birth injury lawyers throughout Canada who are dedicated to advocating for parents and children whose lives have been affected by medical negligence. We understand the range of emotions that parents experience, and work with our clients to help them understand that they were not responsible for what happened. Reach out today to learn more about how we can help.
Feelings of Guilt Are Normal in Birth Injury Cases
BILA lawyers have had the privilege of connecting with families and discussing the most emotional and difficult things that they have had to face. One theme that emerges almost universally is a sense of guilt from parents that they should have been able to prevent their child’s injuries.
Most parents have likely experienced “mom guilt” or “dad guilt” at one point or another. The more we speak with other parents, the clearer it is that it is an almost universal feeling. It is rarely rational and logical, but that feeling remains, all the same. We can explain it away in our heads, but our hearts don’t listen. For what it’s worth, it could likely have to do with the basic human instinct that we have control over everything in our lives, even when we know that we don’t.
We spend a lot of time with families of children who have injuries arising from birth. One thing we have seen numerous times is a hesitancy from mothers to pursue medical malpractice claims on behalf of their injured children, even when they have very strong cases. Most people would say that if your child is likely entitled to millions of dollars to care for his or her extensive medical needs, you would pursue it. But it’s not that simple.
How Self-Blame Can Prevent Parents from Seeking Justice
The first thing most moms think of when something happens to their child is whether they could have prevented it. This is a normal feeling, as it is very scary to think that there are outside forces that can injure our children that are completely outside of our control. We think of outlandish scenarios in which we can protect our children, and even though we know it’s not rational, we feel that way anyway.
This may explain why many mothers are hesitant to go down the road of a claim against the doctors or nurses for their child’s injuries – deep down, even though they know it was outside of their control, they blame themselves in some small way. It’s what moms do – it’s functional when we lift cars to save our children, but not so much when it turns into guilt over something we are powerless over.
A mother who is in labour is in one of the most vulnerable states she will ever be in during her life. She is in pain, on mind-altering medications for that pain, tired, and often scared. Most of the labour process is a blur. A father or partner who is supporting her is often left in the dark, not knowing what is happening.
So why do our clients tell us that they feel they should have done more to prevent what happened while they were experiencing this? It could have something to do with the deep-seeded feeling that they should have the power over everything that may harm their children.
We’re here to remind you that, unfortunately, that’s just not the case. You place yourself and your baby in the hands of qualified medical professionals, and rely heavily upon them during your labour and delivery. You are not trained to read fetal heart tracings, and you certainly cannot perform a cesarean section if things go badly during labour.
The medical professionals are there to intervene in case something goes wrong. You are not in a position to do so. You have enough to do with the superhuman strength that is sometimes required by being a parent to a child with a disability – don’t waste that energy on blaming yourself.
It can be hard to accept that you were not to blame for your child’s birth injury. However, it is important to understand that the best thing that you may be able to do for your child in the immediate aftermath is seeking justice for them. Financial compensation from a medical malpractice lawsuit may not magically heal your child, but it can help to ensure that they get the treatments, therapies, and support that they need to achieve the best possible outcome.
Don’t Hesitate to Call. BILA Is Here to Support You.
Parents experience many conflicting emotions after their child suffers a birth injury, from guilt to anger to despair. These feelings are all perfectly natural, particularly when your child’s birth injury has caused a birth injury. However, you should not let these emotions – especially guilt – hold you back from doing what you need to do to protect your child’s best interests going forward.
When a birth injury was caused by medical malpractice, parents may be able to pursue a birth injury lawsuit on behalf of their children. At BILA, our birth injury lawyers have decades of experience representing families whose children have suffered all types of birth injuries. To learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation with a birth injury lawyer in your province, give us a call at 1-800-300-BILA or fill out our online contact form.
The Birth Injury Lawyers’ Alliance of Canada (BILA) was formed in 2016 by a group of lawyers from across Canada with considerable experience in birth injury cases to promote the effective representation of children and families affected by avoidable injuries occurring at or around the time of birth.