Birth Trauma - Causes, Effects & Recovery

Birth Trauma

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Are you worried about your delivery, as you just heard from your friend about birth injuries which affect a child lifelong? Or did someone narrate her experience of how the baby was not in in the right position and had to be pulled out, leading to bruises and scratches? Are you thinking of ways to get the baby into an ideal position so that your delivery would be safe?

If you are thinking on the same lines as just discussed, we are here to help you. This post brings to you what birth trauma is all about, how it could happen, what are its effects and the ways to recover from it. Are you ready? Then read on.

What Is Birth Trauma?

During the birth process, the mechanical forces like compression, traction could lead to injuries in infants, and that is known as Birth Trauma. Usually in the process of delivery, a damage of tissues or organs could happen to babies as a result of physical pressure resulting in birth trauma.[1][2]

What Are The Causes Of Birth Trauma?

Birth trauma could be physical- like a cut, bruise, fracture or even a chronic condition. Most of the developing countries like Africa and Asia has have more cases of birth trauma. However, even in the US 2 % of births are affected by birth trauma, but mainly physical. [3]

The primary reason of injuries is the weight of the infant. Many of the infants who are larger than an average infant in terms of weight or baby size is more, compared to the mother’s pelvic area, suffer from birth trauma. The reason being that most doctors use instruments to enforce a delivery, or apply force to get the baby out. And at times, doctors are not extra cautious and could apply harsh force; it could result in childbirth trauma. Here are some of the common conditions which could lead to birth injuries in newborn:

  • Babies whose birth weight is more than 4000 grams.
  • Extended labor.
  • Dystocia – difficult labor or delivery.
  • Baby births before 37thweek of pregnancy.
  • The mother’s pelvis may not be in perfect shape to deliver a baby normally or safely.
  • The baby is not in an ideal position for birth (ideal position is head down).

[ Read: Stages Of Childbirth ]

What Are The Different Types Of Birth Trauma?

As per the stats, most of the injuries are caused to the head, the neck or the shoulders as the baby is delivered with his head first. But injuries to other body parts are also a part of the trauma of birth. The most common traumatic injuries are [3].

1. Caput Succedaneum:

In this condition babies, scalps could swell or may get bruises. This condition arises due to the following reasons:

  • During childbirth when pressure gets applied to the baby’s scalp from the vaginal wall and mother’s uterus.
  • If the mother has undergone a long and difficult labor, it could cause some bruises on the baby’s scalp.
  • When the water bag bursts and the baby’s head is vulnerable while he passes through the birth canal.
  • If doctors use vacuum extraction devices.

2. Cephalohematoma:

It’s a condition where you can see blood getting accumulated under the baby’s periosteum (it’s a shielding membrane, protecting the baby’s skull). After numerous hours of delivery, this is noticeable on the baby’s skull.

In most of the cases, it is not harmful as it fades away after a few weeks or months. The blood which was on the skull is absorbed by the back by of the body, making the lump disappear. However in some cases it can cause jaundice if the lumps are too big and don’t break down easily.

3. Bruising and Broken Bones:

Bruising could occur on the face, neck, head or/and other parts of the body because of any of the following reasons:

  • Physical tension while passing through the birth canal.
  • Make Contact with tissues and bones when in the pelvic area.
  • Use of birthing instruments could leave a mark and could also fracture a bone.
  • The usage of vacuum extraction may cause bruises in the scalp.

Bruising may occur on a baby’s face, head, and other body parts due to the physical stresses of the passage through the birth canal. And also due to contact with bones and tissue in the mother’s pelvis. The use of birthing instruments like forceps during delivery may also leave scars on a newborn’s head or face, especially when doctors use too much energy. In addition, vacuum extraction might cause a gash or a bruise on a baby’s scalp.


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