How To Avoid Birth Trauma


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Most births in the U.S. happen without any trauma to the mother or the baby. However, there is always a chance of complications that will result in birth trauma. Sometimes the injuries that occur during childbirth simply happen, and there is no one to blame. In other cases, though, birth injuries are caused by medical professionals who improperly use delivery instruments or make mistakes in how they handle the delivery.

What Are The Most Common Risk Factors of Birth Trauma?

There are many different causes of birth trauma in newborns. Typically, the injuries associated with birth trauma are broken bones, lacerations, head injuries, and neurological problems. There is a higher risk of birth trauma in babies that are larger than average and have trouble making it through the pelvic region. If a baby weighs more than 8 pounds 13 ounces, it is considered large and often requires the use of delivery instruments like vacuum extractors or forceps. If the doctor who is delivering the baby uses too much force with these instruments, birth trauma and injuries can result.

In addition to large babies, other factors add to the risk of birth trauma. Some of these include:

  • Preterm birth (any birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy)
  • Prolonged labor
  • Labor that advances too fast
  • Abnormal pelvis shape of the mother
  • Wrong presentation of the baby (breech presentation)
  • Babies with larger than average heads (too big for the birth canal)
  • Complications with the umbilical cord
  • Delivery instrument misuse

How Can Birth Trauma Be Prevented?

The careful monitoring of the mother during pregnancy, labor, and delivery is the primary key to reducing the risk of trauma during childbirth. When a doctor or other medical professional fails to monitor diligently, and the baby sustains injuries as a result, it can be considered medical malpractice, and the doctor can be found liable for the error.

Some of the most important ways that birth trauma can be prevented include the following:

Adequate prenatal care – Expectant mothers should be provided with comprehensive prenatal care that includes multiple diagnostic tests. These tests can help identify medical conditions that are harmful to mother and baby, such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and infections in the mother. Proper monitoring and care help doctors determine if it is a high-risk pregnancy that requires more attention.

Minimizing the risk of preterm birth – Sometimes preterm labor and premature birth is unpreventable. However, there are some things that doctors can do to help lower the risk of babies being born too soon. Mothers that are at a higher risk of going onto preterm labor may be able to carry their babies to term when doctors employ certain medical interventions, including:

  • Administering progesterone – Progesterone is a hormone that helps women maintain pregnancies.
  • Administering magnesium sulfate – This inorganic salt also assists in suppressing preterm labor.
  • Performing a cervical cerclage – This is a procedure in which a single stitch is placed in the opening of the cervix to prevent delivery until the baby reaches a safer gestational age.

Identifying and treating fetal distress – Doctors should monitor mother and baby during pregnancy, labor, and delivery to identify any signs of fetal distress so that action can be taken promptly. When a baby is in fetal distress, it can mean that it isn’t getting enough oxygen, which can be life-threatening. The indicators of fetal distress include:

  • Decrease in fetal movement
  • Abnormal heart rate of the baby
  • Abnormal Doppler flow study
  • Too much or too little amniotic fluid
  • Cramping or bleeding
  • Abnormal biophysical profile
  • Too much or too little weight gain in the mother

Recognizing when a C-section should be performed – There are certain situations in which a C-section should be performed. If a doctor fails to identify these situations and there is a delay in the C-section, the mother and the baby are at risk of suffering complications. Some of the signs that indicate a C-section may be necessary are:

  • Fetal distress
  • Prolonged labor
  • Arrested labor
  • Umbilical cord prolapse
  • Umbilical cord compression
  • Placenta previa
  • Placental abruption
  • Uterine rupture
  • Macrosomia – larger than average baby
  • Maternal infections
  • Cephalopelvic disproportion – when the baby’s head or body is too large to fit through the pelvic area

When Birth Trauma is Caused by Medical Malpractice

It’s common for babies to fully recover from minor birth injuries and to have no lingering complications. However, there are also times when babies who suffer traumatic births have life-long medical complications as a result. When these types of injuries happen due to the action or inaction of medical professionals, it may be considered medical malpractice.

If your baby had a traumatic birth and has suffered injuries, it’s important to determine if the birth trauma could’ve been prevented. At Ross Feller Casey, we have a team of Ivy League-educated physicians on our staff who are available to consult on birth injury cases. Our doctors have the expertise to carefully review medical records and identify whether negligence occurred.

Our attorneys have a history of winning substantial financial recoveries for families who have suffered the medical, emotional, and financial burdens caused by birth trauma. Let Ross Feller Casey help with your birth injury case. All birth injury cases are handled on a contingency basis, so you don’t pay until we win. Contact our offices today to schedule your free case review.

Disclaimer: Ross Feller Casey, LLP provides legal advice only after an attorney-client relationship is formed. Our website is an introduction to the firm and does not create a relationship between our attorneys and clients. An attorney-client relationship is formed only after a written agreement is signed by the client and the firm. Because every case is unique, the description of awards and summary of cases successfully handled are not intended to imply or guarantee that same success in other cases. Ross Feller Casey, LLP represents catastrophically injured persons and their families in injury and wrongful death cases, providing legal representation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.