Labor and delivery can be difficult for any mother, even in the best circumstances. Unfortunately, this arduous experience is made even more challenging when the child suffers injuries during a traumatic birth.
Birth trauma is a sweeping term used to describe any fractures, cuts or other birth injuries a newborn sustains during labor or delivery. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 6 out of every 1,000 babies born each year in the U.S. will suffer an injury during birth.
Birth trauma occurs more frequently among infants who are larger than average, particularly in situations where the baby’s head is too large to safely pass through the birth canal. This condition is known as cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD) and it happens in about 1 in every 250 births. CPD is a serious complication that demands quick detection and immediate response to avoid injury. Signs that indicate CPD include:
- Fetal distress: CPD can cause fetal distress, a birth complication that occurs when a fetus does not receive enough oxygen during pregnancy or labor.
- Prolonged labor: Also known as a failure to progress, prolonged labor occurs when first-time mothers experience labor for more than 20 hours or women who have previously given birth endure labor for more than 14 hours.
- Large fundal height: Fundal height describes the measurement of distance between the top of a mother’s uterus and her pubic bone. This measurement is also used to identify fetal macrosomia, a term used to describe a newborn with a weight of more than 8 pounds, 13 ounces.
- Excessive amount of amniotic fluid: Amniotic fluid is the fluid that surrounds the fetus while in utero. When a higher-than-average amount of amniotic fluid is present, it may indicate that a baby is too large and at high risk for CPD.
If cephalopelvic disproportion prevents a baby from progressing properly through the birth canal, the child can suffer a number of complications, including fractures, hemorrhaging, asphyxia, paralysis, developmental impairments, Cerebral Palsy and more.
When CPD is detected during labor, a prompt cesarean section (C-section) can help minimize the risk of complications. However, for various reasons, C-sections are not always performed and doctors use their hands, forceps or vacuums to ease a child’s passage through the birth canal. In these situations, neonatal injuries can result if a doctor uses too much physical force while handling the baby or is not careful with birthing instruments.
When used properly, forceps can be an effective method of delivering a baby that is overly large, positioned abnormally or failing to progress adequately. Unfortunately, forceps also carry the risk of potentially harming a child by causing:
- Bone injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Neck injuries
- Nerve injuries
- Head and brain injuries
Similar to the careful and appropriate use of forceps, vacuum extraction can be a beneficial procedure when performed properly. But also like forceps, improper use of a vacuum extractor can lead to several types of birth injuries, some of which include:
- Nerve injuries
- Bone injuries
- Bruising and lacerations
Birth injuries caused by the improper use of forceps or vacuums during delivery can lead to Cerebral Palsy, Erb’s Palsy or other developmental delays. A Medical Legal Review, performed by a team of medical and legal professionals, can help uncover whether the decisions made, and the actions taken, deviated from the established standard of care. This in-depth analysis can also help understand the cause of your child’s possible Cerebral Palsy or Erb’s Palsy diagnosis.
If a Medical Legal Review determines that your child’s Cerebral Palsy was the result of injuries incurred from forceps, vacuums or failures on the part of the medical professionals involved with your child’s birth, your child may be eligible for Lifetime Benefits. Lifetime Benefits can help pay for vital medical and living expenses now and in the future.