14/01/2010 13:08 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

U: What Is Uterine Rupture?

Uterine rupture is an extremely serious medical complication that can be fatal to both mother and baby.

It occurs when the uterine muscle separates and tears. This usually happens along the line of a previous caesarean scar, as this tissue can become stretched and weakened during pregnancy.

In this situation, emergency medical assistance is crucial in order to prevent haemorrhaging and, ultimately, the death of both mother and baby.

However, it is not a common condition and is a relatively rare occurrence - around one in 200 women will suffer a uterine rupture. It can happen to any woman, but those who have had a c-section continue to hold the highest risk.

Additionally, the greater the number of caesareans, the greater the risk.

If a woman is deemed as being in a risk category, both her pregnancy and labour will be monitored extremely closely. Additionally, an overdue pregnant woman who has had a previous caesarean may be advised against having her labour induced. Some may also be advised against attempting a vaginal birth.

Sadly, there is little warning that a rupture is about to occur, although signs of this complication include sudden heavy bleeding and excruciating pain.

If a rupture is suspected, the site of the tear will need to be repaired as an emergency medical procedure, or the uterus itself may need to be removed.