Sometimes, during the birth process, a baby can suffer an injury or trauma. In some cases, the harm is unavoidable but, in others, the injuries are due to doctor negligence. In addition, birth injuries can range from mild to severe and have life-long consequences. Birth trauma can happen when the birth process is difficult, the child is above average in size, or the baby is in a less than optimal position.
Some of the conditions that can lead to a birth injury include premature birth, the mother's pelvis is too small for a natural birth, prolonged labor, and breech birth. To learn more about the most common birth injuries, read further.
As a baby moves through the birth canal, the soft tissues of the scalp can swell significantly. The area can also become bruised. Often, the swelling will cease and the tissues will return to normal within a few days. If the doctor uses a vacuum extraction tool to help with the birth, your child might suffer from this temporary condition.
Cephalohematoma occurs when a baby experiences bleeding beneath a cranial bone. It is typically not noticeable until several hours after birth. You may notice it as a raised lump on your child's head. It usually takes two to three months for the body to reabsorb the blood. However, if the area where the bleeding occurred is large, there is a risk of jaundice developing as it heals.
Bruising or marks
Sometimes, as a baby comes in contact with the mother's pelvic bones and the tissues in the birth canal, the child can experience bruising on the face or head. Unfortunately, birthing tools that the doctor may use can also leave bruises or marks. For example, forceps can often leave bruises or marks on your child's face or head.
Another common injury your child might suffer from due to the birth process is subconjunctival hemorrhage. This happens when the blood vessels in the eyes break. Usually, this does not result in long-term damage and often clears up in less than two weeks.
A brachial plexus is a group of nerves that runs through the neck, shoulders, and arms. When these nerves become injured, brachial palsy can occur. This injury is very common when the birth process is especially difficult. While swelling of the brachial plexus usually heals within a few months, a tear in the nerve could cause permanent damage.
If the delivery of the baby's shoulder is very difficult, or if the birth is breech, then the clavicle or collarbone could become fractured. Fortunately, this injury is very quick to heal in a child. You may even see a lump form on your baby's clavicle within the first ten days as new bone begins to form during the healing process.
While some of these birth injuries can occur due to circumstances outside of your, or your doctor's, control, they can sometimes be caused by doctor negligence or malpractice. If your child suffered a preventable birth injury, you have legal options available.