In childbirth, the fate of the mother and child are put in the hands of medical professionals. Sometimes, a child may acquire an injury during the birthing process, either avoidable or unavoidable. This type of trauma is often called birth injury or birth trauma, and it’s a matter that is often taken up to court.
If you are currently expecting, it’s important to know the causes of birth injury and what you can do to prevent it from happening. In this article, we will talk about the causes of birth injury, how to avoid it, and who has to be held accountable if it happens to your child.
What Are The Causes of Birth Injury?
A birth injury can have many different causes. Some of them are unavoidable during the time of birth, such as:
- Large size of the infant
- Infant is not coming out head-first
- Infant is being born prematurely
- Labor is too long and difficult
- Delivery is via Cesarean section
- Mother’s pelvis or birth canal is not of the ideal size and shape for a normal delivery
- Mother is severely overweight or obese
And other times, a birth injury can be caused by medical negligence during the pregnancy, during delivery, and after delivery:
- Not diagnosing the mother for high-risk conditions
- Failure to provide prenatal care
- Failure to monitor mother and child during pregnancy
- Failure to inform the mother of risks involved with birthing tools
- Using the wrong method of delivery
- Using too much force to pull and twist the infant out
- Failure to control the mother’s blood loss
- Failure to monitor the child post-delivery
- Poor care of infants in the ICU
- Misuse of birthing tools during delivery
How Can You Prevent a Birth Injury?
To significantly decrease the chances of a birth injury from happening to your child, here are the things that you need to keep in mind throughout the process of conception, pregnancy, and childbirth:
Prevention of a birth injury starts before a woman gets pregnant. If you are planning on having a baby, consult with your OB-GYN first. Your doctor will be able to tell if you are ready and able to carry a pregnancy full-term. Moreover, they can diagnose underlying conditions that can pose a risk to you and your child during pregnancy and birth.
Women with the following conditions are considered high-risk and require more care and monitoring:
- Multiple pregnancies
- Very young or very old age
- Heart disease
- HIV-positive status
- Overweight and obesity
- High blood pressure
The prevention of birth injury continues in pregnancy and is perhaps the most critical part of injury prevention. After a woman gets pregnant, she should have:
- Proper prenatal care. The doctor should recommend prenatal tests that are done to assess both the mother and baby’s health. Prenatal tests can detect maternal or fetal problems early on, such as infections, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia. It is vital to treat these conditions as early as possible to prevent complications during childbirth.
- Fetal monitoring. During the pregnancy, the baby should be monitored for signs of fetal distress. These signs, such as abnormal heart rate or decreased fetal movement, can mean that the infant lacks oxygen in the womb.
- Prevention of premature birth. If necessary, premature birth can be prevented if it is too risky. Otherwise, premature birth can cause underdeveloped organs, low birth weights, and weakened immune systems in infants.
There are so many things that can go wrong in a delivery that can cause injury to the mother and child. Therefore, medical professionals should ensure that:
- They recognize if a normal delivery is unsafe or not possible
- An emergency C-section is performed when necessary
- Birthing tools are used properly and only when necessary
- Medications are administered safely and correctly
- Infants are handled correctly and safely during delivery
Birth injuries can still happen after a baby is safely delivered. For infants who are born premature, it is important that they receive proper care in the NICU. For normal babies, they should be handled with care and examined for injuries immediately.
Who Can Be Held Accountable For a Birth Injury?
A birth injury can cause lifetime physical, mental, or behavioral problems in the child, which is the reason that parents want to hold the people responsible accountable for their actions.
In cases where a birth injury is avoidable, medical malpractice or negligence is often the culprit. Medical professionals are tasked to follow the standards of care when handling problems during pregnancy, birth, and infancy. If they fail to follow these standards, and it causes harm to the mother and/or child, they should be held accountable for medical malpractice.
Moreover, medical professionals are responsible for obtaining informed consent from expecting mothers every time they make a decision regarding the child’s health. Failure to do so can also hold them accountable for any harm that might happen.
For parents that want to sue the hospital or its staff for medical malpractice, they should be prepared to provide the following to their birth injury lawyer:
- Proof that the doctor-patient relationship existed (evidence of consultation, treatment, visits, etc.)
- Proof that the doctor was negligent (evidence that the doctor deviated from the medical standard of care)
- Proof that the doctor’s negligence caused the birth injury (evidence that the doctor’s negligence directly caused the birth injury)
- Proof that the injury caused specific damages (e.g. physical pain, emotional pain, medical expenses, loss of employment, mental anguish, etc.)
There are a lot of things that can cause a birth injury, but there are just as many ways to prevent it. If you are planning to be a parent, remember that the prevention of birth injury starts at pre-conception and continues after the child is born. While it is important to consult with a medical professional regularly, make sure that you are getting the utmost care for your pregnancy and delivery.