While giving birth is a natural process, sometimes complications can arise during your delivery. Difficulties during delivery can cause injury to your baby, known as birth trauma or birth injury.
In some cases, birth injuries heal on their own. However, sometimes the damage is so severe that it can cause lifelong difficulties. Your doctor is aware of the risks of birth injury and should take steps to minimize these prior to delivery.
What are the signs of a birth injury?
During the first few weeks or months following your baby’s birth, you should be alert to any behaviors that do not seem normal. Newborns obviously cannot tell you how they feel, but they often exhibit signs of abnormality when a birth injury is present.
According to Stanford Children’s Hospital, sometimes pressure on a baby’s face during delivery can injure the facial nerve. Signs of this type of injury include an inability to move the affected side of the face even when crying. If your baby seems unable or unwilling to move one arm, it may be a sign of a nerve injury of the brachial plexus in the neck or a fracture of the collarbone. Movement abnormalities or muscles that seem too tight or too loose may be symptoms of cerebral palsy, which results from brain damage during or just after birth.
What are the risk factors for a birth injury?
If you are obese, or the size or shape of your pelvis would make it more difficult for the baby’s head to pass through, your child may be at greater risk for birth injuries. An abnormal birthing position also increases the risk. Prior to delivery, babies usually turn so that their bodies point headfirst toward the birth canal, but abnormal positions, such as buttocks-first or back-down, are also possible.
Babies who are premature or larger than nine pounds are also at greater risk for birth injuries. Prolonged labor can also increase the risk. For this reason, if labor has gone on for some time, your doctor may recommend a cesarean section.