From Iceland — Woman Crippled During Childbirth Means To Sue The State

Woman Crippled During Childbirth Means To Sue The State

Published March 30, 2022

Alice Poggio
Photo by

The Icelandic government is facing a lawsuit by the woman who was crippled following the birth of her third child six years ago, RÚV reports.  Bergþóra Birnudóttir, a former nurse and a once healthy and active woman, is grieving the loss of her previous life.

Bergþora’s other pregnancies also resulted in large babies, but this one was different; she could tell that something was wrong. She did not waste time, and voiced her concerns at every visit. The maternity protection registrations support her claims, recording her worsening condition, and clearly stating the concerns expressed by Bergþóra.

The Icelandic Easter Box! How about it? Easter is drawing closer! The beautiful celebration of resurrection and the beginning of spring! Icelanders love Easter and particularly the part where chocolate is involved. As always, to keep supporting our journalism and getting some sweet perks, join our High Five Club today.

More than 10,000 incidents that have or could have caused health damage, are reported annually. Those that could cause permanent disability or death occur on average once a week.

A typical pregnancy lasts between 37 to 40 weeks. At 38 weeks, Bergþóra bled, had contractions, and begged to be induced. The obstetrician told her to take Parkodín forte. Speaking with RÚV, she recalls that moment: “It just becomes so clear to me: my good God, no one is going to help me,”.

A Harrowing Story

At 41 weeks she was finally brought to the hospital with an ambulance and labour was induced. She insists the midwife used a ‘manual fundal pressure’ maneuver in order to get the baby out, a detail which is not present in her hospital records. This method is opposed by the World Health Organization, due to the harm it can cause to both the mother and the baby. The method consists in the midwife placing all of her body weight on top of the patient, to push the baby out. 

Needless to say, the damage reported was significant. Bone marrow rupture, major damage to  pelvic floor muscles and nerves, the removal of part of her colon and the subsequent placing of a stoma bag, and a third degree shin splint, (when women tear at birth into the rectum). She was brought home with an ambulance, and was attended to by several aids. Six years later, the aids are still present, and so is her unbearable pain.

It was revealed at birth that the baby had congenital overgrowth syndrome, weighing 5840 grams. It is reported that numerous symptoms associated with the syndrome were present quite early on. 

“Recognition for what happened. Acknowledgment of mistakes “

Bergþóra received maximum compensation from the Icelandic Health Insurance for the damages, 10.8 million ISK. However, this was before the full extent of her injuries was truly understood. She then sent a complaint to the Directorate of Health, asking them to shed light on the negligence, and received a reply two and a half years later, which stated that no negligence had occurred.

Bergþóra feels that recognition of the mistakes that allegedly have taken place is the only way forward. Mistakes cannot be tackled if they are not acknowledged, and we all hope that Bergþora’s experience can at least serve as the push that the health services need, to revise their practices and examine their shortcomings.

Support The Reykjavík Grapevine!
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!

Show Me More!