The first thing to understand if you are about to become a mother for the first time is that birth injuries in newborns are not an uncommon occurrence. There is a child coming out of a birth canal that is much more narrow than the baby’s body, so there is always a possibility of something going wrong.
The best way to protect the safety of your newborn child is to educate yourself on the most common possibilities, so that you are mentally and physically prepared to cope should something happen during childbirth. Here is a short overview of a few of the most common injuries inflicted during the birth of a child.
Some causes of birth injuries
Sometimes, childbirth can be complicated by the size of the baby, but also by the size of the mother. If the mother’s pelvis is very narrow, childbirth can become dangerous to the mother and the baby. Here are a few causes of birth injuries:
- Birthweight greater than 8 pounds, 13 ounces.
- Premature birth.
- Cephalopelvic disproportion means the mother’s pelvis is too narrow for the baby to safely be delivered vaginally.
- Prolonged labor, lasting more than 12 hours.
- Breech baby (the baby is positioned butt down instead of head down).
When the baby is not able to get enough oxygen during childbirth, perinatal asphyxia can occur. A child that is deprived of oxygen can have terrible repercussions after birth. These are the families that end up in the middle of a lawsuit for neonatal malpractice. Seizures, coma, labored breathing, and even shock can occur as a direct result of perinatal asphyxia.
Brachial plexus injuries (BPI)
A brachial plexus injury is when the nerve bundle at the top of the spine is damaged. Sometimes the nerve bundle is merely stretched, and the effects are temporary.
In severe cases of BPI, the nerve roots are separated completely from the spine, and the child is paralyzed. BPI can occur from being too rough when pulling the baby from the mother, or if the child is delivered feet first.
If you are any good at deciphering root terms, then you may already know that a cephalohematoma is a fancy way of describing a baby born with a collection of blood underneath a portion of the child’s skull. Cephalohematomas are typically not serious, and clear up on their own.
Caput succedaneum is a complicated way of saying that your baby could be born with a little bruising or discoloration to the scalp. Caput succedaneum is usually a result of the baby receiving a bit too much pressure on the head during childbirth.
Doctors sometimes use tools to extract a particularly troublesome child from the womb, and bruising can result. It is not a life-threatening injury, and caput succedaneum will clear up all on its own.