As beautiful as giving birth is, it sometimes can also be dangerous for the mother and/or baby. Often, the risks are due to natural factors out of anyone’s control. Other times, the danger comes from medical staff causing harm.
It is important to know the difference between a normal birth injury for a baby and a preventable, serious health effect due to negligence and other forms of medical malpractice. In general, how the trauma happened determines the category.
Due to the nature of the birthing process, bruising on babies’ faces and heads is quite normal and disappears over time with no lasting effects. On the rare occasions injury is severe and permanent, the incident is usually due to a forceps delivery. Mayo Clinic lists possible damage as facial palsy, skull fractures and seizures. The use of forceps tends to be riskier for mothers than for babies.
Babies need a constant flow of oxygen supply until they are out of the womb and able to breathe on their own. Any interruption to that flow can cause brain injury, such as cerebral palsy. Factors that increase the odds of such problems include premature birth, long delivery and multiple babies. Doctors must provide the best care to ensure the baby’s proper development during pregnancy and to reduce risk during labor. Inducing too early or delaying birth for too long can lead to oxygen deprivation.
Weak arm muscles
In cases where babies are large or breech, shoulder dystocia (shoulder getting stuck during delivery) is likelier. This condition comes with the risk of the baby sustaining a brachial plexus injury, in which various muscles in the arm become weak, making the arm hang limply and unable to move properly. Most babies recover from this injury within weeks to months. A few may need surgery to assist in recovery, and others may never regain normal arm function. Providers often perform C-sections when facing a labor with shoulder dystocia, but this surgery also comes with numerous risks to the baby and mother.