Maternal Death

Maternal deaths are those involving deaths of women during or shortly after pregnancy. Some maternal deaths are preventable and with well trained obstetricians, doctors and nurses, the figures for maternal death will continue to decrease. However risks to the mother and baby during birth should be recognized and medical or midwifery negligence can cause deaths.

If a mother has died as a result of medical or midwifery negligence before, during or following childbirth then we could help the family seek compensation. The woman’s spouse or partner and minor children could claim bereavement damages and there may also be a claim on behalf of the estate for damages for any unnecessary pre-death pain and suffering, as well as a dependency claim for any children, or other categories of dependent and funeral and other expenses.

The list below outlines the most common causes of maternal death:

  • Haemorrhage

Click here for more information. Maternal haemorrhage can cause severe injury to mother and child, including brain damage and cerebral palsy and it can cause either mother or child to die. It is one of the leading causes of maternal death globally. Women may bleed heavily during pregnancy.  Management of the haemorrhage needs to be organised and executed rapidly and effectively. In many cases, failures, including failure to carry out checks, observations and investigations, misdiagnosis and failure to notice or act upon symptoms, are factors which cause or contribute to maternal deaths from haemorrhage. Haemorrhage is treated by attempts to stop the mother’s bleeding, including emergency surgery and, where necessary, the baby may need to be delivered early to prevent injury or death of mother and/or child.  A hysterectomy may need to be performed if necessary to save the mother’s life. Treatments such as blood transfusions, fluid replacement and iron are given to compensate for blood loss and anaemia. However, sometimes, if treatment is too late and/or if the haemorrhage or its cause have been catastrophic, irreversible damage may already have occurred . Although improvements in the management of haemorrhage have been made, maternal deaths due to haemorrhage do still occur).

  • Infection 

click here for more information 

  • Pre-eclampsia  

Click here for more information Pre-eclampsia: is a disease specific to pregnancy. Its cause is still not fully understood but it is believed to be related to placental dysfunction. It leads to numerous symptoms arising during pregnancy and is most commonly experienced during the last 20 weeks gestation. Common symptoms include high blood pressure, headaches, visual disturbances, oedema (fluid retention and swelling), epigastric pain as well as protein in the urine and abnormal blood results. It is not necessary for a woman to experience all of the aforementioned symptoms. Even a few of these symptoms can suggest pre-eclampsia and can warrant urgent delivery. In severe cases of pre-eclampsia, women fulminate rapidly and this is where tragedy occurs. During this rapid onset, women become increasingly compromised with enhanced risks of seizures and death of mother and baby is a potential result. The only way of treating pre-eclampsia is with delivery).                                       

Click here for more information on pre-eclampsia and eclampsia. 

  • HELLP Syndrome  

Click here for more information HELLP syndrome is a disease that is a life-threatening variant or complication of pre-eclampsia. It usually occurs late in pregnancy but sometimes arises following delivery. This tends to involve similar symptoms to pre-eclampsia with hypertension, headaches, visual disturbances and oedema . Click here for more information on pre-eclampsia and eclampsia.  Like pre-eclampsia, the only effective treatment for HELLP is delivery of the baby. If the woman develops seizures, a reduced level of consciousness, or coma then full blown life threatening eclampsia will have developed. Women can become haemodynamically unstable with noticeably low platelets and elevated liver enzymes. 20% of women with this syndrome go on the develop DIC (disseminated intravascular coagulation). This is when little clots form all over the body in blood vessels causing blockage of vessels, thus increasing blood pressure and reducing oxygenation to organs. Ultimately this results in organ failure, mainly liver or renal failure and life threatening pulmonary oedema of the lungs can develop. Treatment involves administration of fresh frozen plasma, blood transfusions and intravenous fluids, corticosteroid drugs and antihypertensive medications to reduce blood pressure. Between 73 and 119 in every thousand babies of HELLP patients are stillborn or die in infancy. Around 1% of women with HELLP syndrome die. Although it is difficult to reverse the damage caused by HELLP, the majority of women survive the disease without long term effects. 25% have complications including abruption of the placenta, kidney failure, liver damage and retinal detachments). 

Our team of specialist birth injury and medical negligence solicitors at Chadwick Lawrence is led by Tony May, a specialist birth injury and cerebral palsy solicitor. He has an excellent record in high value and complex cases, many resulting in multi-million pound settlements. Tony has over 20 years experience in dealing with birth injury cases including those in which babies have been brain damaged or sustained other injuries as a result of negligent care and management before, during or following birth. He continues to represent many cerebral palsy children and adults in medical negligence claims and after settlement he provides ongoing support as the Court of Protection Deputy for many of his cerebral palsy and brain damaged clients.

Tony can be contacted by email on or by telephone on 01484 519999. Alternatively, you could call our team on the freephone number below.

Our dedicated team of specialist clinical negligence, birth injury and cerebral palsy solicitors deal with claims countrywide including those relating to maternal deaths. We are based at our Huddersfield office but can visit you in your home or in hospital if you are unable to attend at one of our West Yorkshire offices. If, as a result of possible medical negligence or negligence of a midwife you or your child has sustained a birth injury, or if there has been a maternal death in your family, please contact our specialist medical negligence Legal Aid and no-win-no-fee lawyers for free legal advice.

Contact Chadwick Lawrence for free legal advice on FREE PHONE 0800 028 2969 or

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