Many women consider the birth of their child the happiest day of their life. But sometimes, that day doesn’t go as planned.
About 7 out of 1000 babies born have some form of birth injury.
Birth injuries range from mild and go away within a few days to severe and require immediate medical intervention.
Knowing the signs of birth injuries and how to respond could save your child’s life.
What is a Birth Injury?
Birth injuries are injuries that babies acquire either before birth, during the childbirth process, or immediately after a child is born.
Like any injury, you can take steps to prevent birth injuries – but ultimately, you should keep in mind that accidents happen. Being prepared for birth injuries will help you remain calm if you find yourself in any of the following situations.
What Increases the Chance of Birth Injuries?
Sometimes birth injuries are unavoidable. Here are a few common reasons birth injuries occur.
- A large baby
- Going into premature labor
- The size and shape of the mother’s pelvis
- Difficult or prolonged labor
- Abnormal baby position – like breeched babies
- Obesity or other maternal health issues
You can decrease your chances of a birth injury by properly caring for your body before birth.
4 Common Forms of Birth Injuries
Here are four common forms of birth injuries and how you can identify that a birth injury occurred.
1. Brain Injuries
Brain injuries impact the brain, head, and skull. These types of damages can be severe but are sometimes treatable. Some common types of brain injuries that babies sustain before, during, and after birth are:
- Brain damage – caused by a lack of oxygen or blood to the brain. It often occurs before birth but can result from blocked blood vessels or strokes.
- Caput Succedaneum – swelling of the scalp because of prolonged labor that puts pressure on a baby’s skull. The main symptom is a cone-shaped head. It will usually resolve within a few days.
- Cerebral Palsy – results from an abnormal brain development during pregnancy or an injury during birth.
- Cephalohematoma – bleeding between the skull and scalp. The blood isn’t near the brain and only results in a bulge in the head. It usually resolves itself in a few weeks.
2. Brachial Palsy
When an infant experiences paralysis in their arms, it can be due to brachial plexus palsy. This palsy is also known as Erb’s palsy. This birth injury is caused by a birth complication when the baby’s neck is stretched too far to one side, usually due to the child not being in the proper birthing position.
The paralysis is temporary, and babies should recover full use of their arms – though sometimes physical therapy is required to help in recovery.
3. Spinal Cord Injuries
The spinal cord is a highway of nerves. If your child displays signs of weakness or paralysis, they may have experienced a spinal cord injury.
Many spinal cord injuries occur during birth when a doctor is assisting the child. For example, when a child’s head or neck is pulled or strained, the doctor also puts additional strain on the child’s spinal cord.
A child’s recovery time depends on how severe the injury is. Sometimes the damage will heal naturally within weeks, while other times, a child will experience permanent damage from the injury.
4. Extraction Complications
Sometimes birth complications require doctor intervention to help the baby out of the birth canal. Unfortunately, whenever this happens, and the doctor has to use force to remove the child safely, your child is at risk for injury.
Some common injuries include bruising and marks left by forceps during the birthing process. A child might also suffer fractures and partial paralysis in areas like the face in more severe cases.
Bruising and forceps marks heal on their own, while more severe injuries require medical procedures.
What Should You Do if You Notice a Birth Injury?
After your birth, note any unusual marks and bruises on your child. Then, follow up with your pediatrician if you are concerned your child might be experiencing any birth injuries. Be especially aware of any sudden weakness, swelling, or paralysis, as this might indicate more severe damage that requires immediate medical intervention.
If you do notice any birth injuries, consider contacting birth injury law firms. They can advise you on whether the damage is eligible for compensation. In addition, payment for a birth injury can help cover any medical bills from treatment.
You don’t need to stress over the possibility of birth injuries. Many injuries will heal naturally. Instead, focus on keeping yourself healthy during your pregnancy and trust that your doctors will treat any medical emergencies that arise later.