During delivery, a baby might be physically stressed or pressured and sustain injuries caused by birth trauma. Long-term injuries because of damage to the brain during birth can also be called birth trauma. When a baby suffers injuries during birth because of birth trauma, the mother might also suffer emotional damage and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Birth trauma and resulting injuries might result from medical negligence. When an infant suffers preventable injuries, malpractice might have occurred. A birth trauma attorney at Raynes & Lawn might help the families of babies who were injured because of medical errors during delivery to hold those responsible accountable for their negligence.
Birth Injuries vs. Birth Trauma
Many people use the terms birth injuries and birth trauma interchangeably, but birth injuries are much broader and include many different types of harm to infants. Birth injuries can be caused by infections, hypoxia, and other factors, including birth trauma. Birth trauma is a type of birth injury that is caused by physical or mechanical means. It can also refer to lasting complications that a baby might develop because of mechanical damage that happened during the baby’s delivery.
What Are the Causes of Birth Trauma?
Some of the potential causes of birth trauma include the following:
- Abnormal presentation
- Birth acceleration
- Rapid delivery
- Obstetric turn
- Prolonged delivery
- Vacuum extractor or forceps use
Consequences of Birth Trauma
Around 5.9% of mothers whose infants suffered birth trauma from around the world are diagnosed with PTSD. However, in the U.S., the rates of PTSD diagnosis among mothers are lower. However, experts believe that the rate is likely higher because of PTSD cases not being diagnosed or being misdiagnosed as postpartum depression. Postpartum depression might co-occur with PTSD in some cases, but the two disorders are not the same. Medications prescribed for postpartum depression might not be effective treatments for women suffering from PTSD and vice versa.
Some of the characteristics of postpartum PTSD include the following:
- Traumatic birth experience in which the health of the infant or mother was threatened
- Feelings of helplessness and fear when thinking about the birth
- Avoiding reminders of the birth
- Avoiding talking about the trauma and birth
- Panic, anxiety, and distress when remembering the birth
- Nightmares or flashbacks of the traumatic birth
- Trouble concentrating or sleeping
It is less clear whether birth trauma might also cause psychological or emotional damage to infants. Some researchers believe that the brains of infants are not developed enough to experience trauma in a way that could result in lasting emotional damage. Others believe that birth trauma can remain with the baby and cause problems in the future. The immediate physical signs of birth trauma can include bruising, distortions of the baby’s head, marks from the forceps, and lacerations.
Injuries Caused by Birth Trauma
Injuries caused by birth trauma can sometimes be hard to distinguish from birth injuries caused by other problems like oxygen deprivation. Some of the types of injuries that can be caused by birth trauma include the following:
- Brachial plexus palsy
- Spinal cord injuries
- Clavicle fractures
- Other fractures of the body or head
Can Birth Trauma Be Prevented?
PTSD in mothers caused by birth trauma might be partially prevented through education about the birth process and the effect of epidurals on the pain of labor and delivery. Easing pain associated with childbirth might help to prevent injuries to the baby during birth by slowing down or accelerating the birth process so that mothers do not accidentally push too hard or not push hard enough. Doctors and other medical staff members might help to prevent birth trauma by conducting certain tests before birth so that they know the size and position of the fetus and learn about other potential complications that need to be addressed before birth. During the delivery process, birth trauma can be prevented by carefully monitoring the baby and promptly intervening to address any complications that might arise.
Some of the steps a medical team can take to help prevent birth trauma include the following:
- Get the mother’s thorough medical history.
- Properly evaluate the mother and baby to diagnose any problems that might cause the pregnancy and delivery to be high risk.
- Examine the mother and baby to determine the baby’s position before birth.
- Start fetal heartbeat monitoring upon the mother’s arrival with pregnancy-related problems and when the mother begins labor.
- Promptly deliver a baby whenever the infant shows signs of distress on the heartbeat monitor, which normally means performing an emergency C-section.
- Thoroughly explain any procedures to the mother, including their risks and any alternatives.
Speak to a Child Injury Lawyer at Raynes & Lawn
While some traumatic births are unavoidable, others are preventable through competent prenatal care and good monitoring before and during the delivery process. When an infant and mother sustain serious injuries because of birth trauma, they could be left facing lasting consequences. If you believe your child’s traumatic birth and subsequent injuries were caused by medical negligence, you should consult an experienced birth trauma attorney at Raynes & Lawn. We work closely with medical experts to understand the appropriate standard of care and determine whether the treatment provided by medical professionals deviated from it. Call us today to schedule a free consultation at 1-800-535-1797.
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