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FAQ’s and answers about birth injuries and prevention

Childbirth is a life-altering event, one that should be a celebration. You are birthing a new human into the world. The last thing you want to occur is for you or especially your new child to suffer trauma that results in a birth injury.

The sad realization is that birth injuries do occur. These traumatic events can affect a child’s or mother’s health for the rest of their life.

According to the Birth Injury Guide, 28,000 babies per year are born with birth trauma in the United States. That equates to 76 birth injuries per day and 3 per hour.

What are the most common causes of birth injuries?

Other than misdiagnosis, miscommunication of the use of birth-assisting tools, like forceps or vacuums, the following causes may lead to the newborn sustaining a birth injury. While you still may have reason to pursue a medical malpractice suit, the following causes may signal to the doctor that they have to use forceps, vacuums or the force of their hands to guide the child through the birth canal.

  • Large babies (weighing over 8 pounds)
  • Premature births
  • The shape or size of the mother’s pelvis, birth canal or both doesn’t allow for a safe delivery
  • Very long labor or delivery times
  • Dystocia: The medical term for a problematic birth caused by an overly large or mispositioned fetus, the mother’s small pelvis or the uterus contracting and expanding irregularly
  • The mother’s extreme obesity
  • Performing a C-section

Are some birth traumas more common than others?

While most birth injuries are preventable, some are more common, including:

  • Cranial swelling, bruising or bleeding
  • The breaking of blood vessels in the baby’s eye(s)
  • Nerve damage or bone injury on the baby’s face (often caused by applied pressure)
  • Nerve damage to the spine that controls the movement of arms or legs
  • Collarbone fracture

Can expectant mothers take steps to help prevent a birth injury?

Birth injuries most often occur due to miscommunication, misdiagnosis or a medical mistake, but there are steps you can take as preventative measures. You must ask your doctor about any pregnancy question that is causing you anxiety or if something doesn’t feel quite right.

Common medical mistakes that lead to birth injuries include:

  • Improperly detecting and monitoring fetal distress
  • Improperly prescribing medications
  • Incorrectly using birth-assisting tools
  • Misdiagnosis
  • Issues with the umbilical cord
  • Delaying a C-section

Also, stay educated on all birth-assisting techniques and tools, like forceps, vacuums, or the pressure from a doctor’s hands. You have the legal right to know the good and risks involved with your pregnancy and delivery. It is your body. If anything feels off during the pregnancy or delivery, speak up immediately. Even a slight tingling or headache could signal a complication.