Birth Trauma

birth injuryWith the advancement in modern medicine comes reductions in complications to procedures such as labor and delivery. However, despite the fact that the number of birth trauma injuries is lower contemporarily than ever before historically, there are still injuries that occur during birthing process that can range anywhere from minor to serious. These injuries can affect both mother and infant. Rough estimates on the prevalence of birth injuries conservatively place the number of live births involving some degree of birth trauma at less than three percent of childbirths.

What Is a Birth Trauma?

A birth trauma is generally considered a generic term for an injury that might arise during labor. Birth trauma is an all-encompassing term that could entail a small laceration that appears on the infant during delivery, bone fractures in the birthing process, or potentially life-threatening complications involving anoxia and hypoxia. Ultimately, with birth injury as a broad term could range from something very minor that requires no treatment such as a caput succedaneum or be serious enough to cause permanent mental and physical deformities, including even death.

Common Birth Traumas include:

  • Caput succedaneum is a common form of birth trauma that results when trauma to the skull causes swelling. This condition can lead to the more serious side effect of jaundice in rare situations, therefore it is essential that medical practitioners monitor the progress of the swelling
  • Subconjunctival hemorrhages, which occur when a blood vessel in the infant’s eye break. It causes bleeding and is observable as redness in the infant’s eye
  • Fractures, especially those involving the clavicle of infant. In some cases, nothing has to be done to treat these fractures. However, in cases where pain is present, a sling may be necessary.

Causes of Birth Trauma

Birth trauma can occur for many different reasons. However, common reasons include improper use of tools during the delivery process by the medical staff or incorrect handling of the infant during and immediately following the birthing process. Birth trauma is not that common in the US; however, it does happen a low percentage of the time. When it does happen, it is more likely to occur in larger babies. This is especially true when the infant is larger than average and the mother’s pelvic area is relatively small. In these and other cases, the difficulty in the natural birthing process requires medical professionals to use tools such as a vacuum, forceps, or even simply their hands to ensure a viable birth. Once more tools are introduced into the delivery process, there typically stands a higher chance of birth injury.  Other factors that have been shown to lead to an increase in the likelihood of birth trauma include lengthy labor periods, prior complications during the pregnancy period, and mothers presenting pre-existing health conditions going into the birth process.

Birth Trauma Treatment

Birth trauma treatment will entirely depend on the type of trauma sustaining during or immediately following the birth process. For a minor cut or bruise, light first aid or even nothing might be the best way to handle the injury. On the other hand, a fracture or broken bone could require setting the bone and constant monitoring. However, in most cases, given the sensitivity and highly vulnerable nature of infants and mothers during the birth process, complications arising during the labor and delivery frequently require immediate medical intervention to prevent long-term health risks for both. Moreover, for infants especially, monitoring of any known medical complications as the result of the birth process is a legal obligation of obstetricians and other medical professionals.

Birth Trauma and Medical Malpractice

While often times complications from birth are both unavoidable and non-serious, there are times when lack of care by the medical team conducting the birth lead to serious injuries to the baby. If that is the case, then it may be a good idea to contact a medical malpractice lawyer in order to deal with the complications surrounding negligence or lack of foresight on the part of the medical staff.


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