During the birth process, a baby may sustain an injury that is simply the result of the birthing process. Injuries like these are referred to as a birth injury or birth trauma. A challenging birth can cause injury to the baby because of the position of the baby during delivery and labor, or from their size. Conditions that can contribute to a difficult birth include prematurity, birth weight over eight pounds, dystocia, cephalopelvic disproportion, abnormal birthing presentation, maternal obesity, prolonged labor, and more.
What many parents may not realize, as a birth injury lawyer at Hayhurst Law, PLLC explains, their baby’s injuries could be the result of a mistake or oversight committed by a doctor or other medical professionals. The most common types of birth injuries have been listed below.
Marks From Forceps
Some babies may have bruises on their head or face because of trauma when going through the birth canal and when passing along the mother’s pelvic bones. A doctor may use forceps to assist with delivery, but it can leave bruises or marks on the baby’s head and face. Babies that are delivered by use of vacuum extraction can have some scalp cuts and bruising as well.
When the nerves that supply the hands and arms get damaged, this is referred to as brachial plexus. It is most commonly seen when the baby’s shoulder gets stuck during delivery, called shoulder dystocia. The baby may lose their ability to rotate and flex their arm. Bruising and swelling around the nerves may heal and return to normal in a few months, but tearing of the nerves may cause irreversible nerve damage. While healing, the parents can use special exercises to promote use of the baby’s upper extremities.
This condition usually appears a few hours after delivery and shows itself in the form of a raised bump on the baby’s head. This is caused by bleeding between the skull bone and the fibrous material that covers it. Over the course of time, the body may reabsorb this blood, however, it may take a few months to recede entirely. And if the bleeding area is expansive, babies may develop jaundice as red blood cells are broken down.
The swelling of scalp soft tissues after delivery may be diagnosed as caput succedaneum, which develops when the baby goes through the birth canal. Some may have visible bruising, and swelling will often retreat within a few days without further complications. Babies who were delivered with the use of a vacuum are at a higher likelihood of developing this condition.
When the small blood vessels of a baby’s eyes rupture, one or both eyes can appear to have a bright red band within the white part of the eye. Subconjunctival hemorrhages are common and do not result in permanent eye damage. The redness will typically absorb and recede within 7-10 days after delivery.