Giving birth to a baby can be traumatic on the body of the mother, but did you ever consider that it might be just as traumatic for the baby as well? The infant usually spends around 9 months in the mother’s womb where they are safe and sound. Sometimes, they rotate into an unfavorable position before they breach and other times health complications that the mother has can end up making the delivery process complicated. And this can end up hurting the baby and causing several kinds of injuries. If you’d like to know more about birth injuries that a baby can have, then this is the article for you. Read on to know more!
What Is A Birth Injury For A Baby?
It may come as a surprise but many babies get injured during childbirth. Thankfully most of these birth injuries are temporary and fixable, so there’s no need to panic. Birth injuries that babies sustain are known as neonatal birth trauma. And this can include a wide range of things. Your baby could have light bruising, nerve damage or even break a bone. However, it’s important to keep in mind that most of these injuries only occur when life saving procedures are done. So, it is for the long term benefit of the baby. Listed below are the usual types of birth injuries that affect babies.
Bruises And Swelling Of The Scalp
As the baby usually comes out head first, it is not uncommon for them to have light bruising or even some swelling on their head and face. There are different kinds of bruises and swelling to take into consideration while trying to treat the baby. There’s regular swelling, sometimes called chignon, lumps caused by fluid under the skin, that is, caput succedaneum or bleeding under the skin known as cephalohematomas, and blood inside the eye called subconjunctival hemorrhage. These may sound scary but they can be treated and your baby will be fine in time.
Breaks in the skull or fractures can happen if there is some difficulty in getting the baby out of the birth canal. The bone that breaks the most often in these situations is the collarbone or clavicle. This happens when the baby’s shoulders get stuck, a problem known as shoulder dystocia or if the baby is born breech, that is, bottom first.
Unfortunately, it is possible for the baby’s nerves to get damaged during childbirth, especially in the baby’s face. This can sometimes lead to serious unrectifiable issues like facial paralysis. The baby’s shoulders can also incur some nerve damage, and this can lead to brachial palsy, the loss of arm movement. Thankfully, in most cases newborn nerve damage is temporary.
In some extremely rare cases, the baby can suffer a brain injury as well. This usually happens when the baby doesn’t get enough oxygen for a long time during their labor. This is when they experience perinatal asphyxia. Cerebral palsy is also a type of brain damage, but it is not taken into consideration here as a very small number of these cases are due to complications at childbirth.
Bleeding In The Brain
This is another rare phenomenon but some babies can suffer bleeding in and around their brain during childbirth. This is usually seen with premature babies and the worst part is that the infants with internal bleeding have no symptoms. Some may be lethargic, have difficulty feeding and may experience seizures later on.
What Causes The Birth Injury?
Babies can have birth injuries because of the pressure and resistance involved in giving birth vaginally. When the baby moves through the birth canal, there is a lot of pressure on their skull and body from the mother’s pelvic bones. If your baby weighs more than 4 kgs and is quite big, they have a higher risk of injury during childbirth. There is also a greater risk if the baby is in a difficult position for labor and birth, like in a breech position.
Premature babies who are born before 37 weeks are also prone to birth injuries as they are more fragile. A difficult or prolonged labor also can lead to birth injuries. The shoulders could get stuck in the birth canal as well. If the mother’s pelvis isn’t large enough or is shaped oddly, it can jeopardize the baby. Most baby birth injuries are temporary and if the injury is done to the soft tissue then no treatment is needed. If there’s a fracture then the baby will need an x-ray and other treatments.
If your baby has a birth injury, please don’t panic. Most of these injuries are treatable and temporary. All your baby needs is some love and care to be fit and healthy!
- Brachial Plexus Birth Injury in the Preterm Infant: Suspecting the Unsuspected, NCBI
- Birth Injury: Birth Asphyxia and Birth Trauma, NCBI
- Birth Trauma, NCBI