Birth is the first step of physical existence for a human being. Childbirth is not an easy process. In fact, it is considered one of the complicated mechanisms. It is a process consisting of three major stages; labor, delivery of baby, and delivery of the placenta. Each has its significance, and one must handle it with due care.
With recent advancements in science and technology, there has been a collective change in the mindset of people regarding childbirth. There has been a change in trend from childbirth at home to childbirth at the hospital. In old times, local maids and “doulas” used to handle childbirths. Still, they had neither the scientific knowledge nor the expertise in the process of childbirth. Nowadays, a hospital setup is the most common and ideal place for childbirth.
A specialized doctor is the safest person to handle this process. So a doctor has to make the delicate process of childbirth safe. Any negligence on behalf of healthcare professionals can lead them to face wrongful death suits. So, a health professional must have knowledge of the process and the types of childbirth injuries, and ways to avoid them.
Types of Childbirth Injuries:
Childbirth is a complex process. A fetus is susceptible to different types of injuries. These injuries may be due to the trauma and pressure during the delivery process. Some of the most common types of childbirth injuries are;
These are the most common types of injuries and occur in many forms. Head injuries of primary significance are the following:
- Caput succedaneum (swelling of the scalp in a newborn),
- Cephalhematoma (collection of blood between the scalp and skull of the baby’s head),
- Molding (change in fetal head shape),
- Scalp bruises, epidural hematoma (collection of blood between the skull and dura mater),
- Subarachnoid hemorrhage, and 6. Subdural hemorrhage, etc.
Major fractures include midclavicular fractures and skull fractures. Midclavicular fracture is the most common fracture during childbirth. In most cases, it occurs in association with shoulder dystocia. They are not severe and heal quickly. Skull fractures are also usual and occur mostly in assisted deliveries that involve the use of forceps. Other fractures include fractures of the humerus and femur.
Nerve injuries include facial nerve injuries and brachial plexus injuries. The facial nerve is the most involved. Excessive pressure by forceps or undesirable positioning in the mother’s uterus causes this type of injury. It results in the uneven symmetry of the face or weakness and numbness of the face.
Brachial plexus injury is another common type. It is the result of excessive stretching of the neck. It may be partial (upper brachial plexus or lower brachial plexus) or complete (the whole of it is involved). Upper brachial plexus injury results in “Erb Palsy.” Lower brachial plexus injury results in “Klumpke palsy.”
The brain can be damaged before, during, or after birth. There are many types of brain damage, but the most prominent ones are cerebral palsy, HIE (Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy), PVL (Periventricular Leukomalacia), and cerebral dysgenesis.
It occurs due to a lack of blood supply to the brain. It might be considered a type of brain damage. It is a severe condition and can have complications like ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and loss of vision or hearing.
How to avoid childbirth injuries:
As we know now that childbirth is a critical process. It requires a high level of accuracy to provide a safe delivery. Maternity care before childbirth is just as significant as childbirth itself. Common and effective ways to avoid childbirth injuries are.
Antenatal care: This is a form of preventive care health. A pregnant woman should pay regular visits to maternity centers to have checkups and other basic investigations like ultrasound, blood tests, urine tests, etc. She needs regular exercise and enough sleep. She should focus on her hygiene and keep her sugar and blood pressure levels in control. She ought to have the necessary knowledge about a healthy diet. She also needs supplements (Vitamins, folate, calcium, etc.) to avoid any complications during childbirth.
Careful fetal monitoring and early diagnosis: A baby needs proper monitoring and evaluation during labor and delivery. Fetal monitoring is an essential tool in anticipating and preventing complications and injuries. Suppose we diagnose a health condition in the mother (or the child) beforehand. In that case, we can avoid any undesired results during childbirth.
Safe healthcare setup and safe doctors: A mother and her child need a healthcare setup that is safe, hygienic, equipped with modern tools, and qualified staff. Medical professionals who perform the delivery must have safe hands. They must have the required medical knowledge and skills to safeguard the health of both mother and child. Any mishandling or medical negligence on their part can cause severe complications and injuries to both mother and child.
Preventing the misuse of birth tools: Common birth tools used in healthcare centers during childbirth are forceps and vacuum extractors. A natural delivery is always the best way as far as it is uncomplicated. The unnecessary use of these tools can cause severe injuries to the child (and even the mother).
Timely decision-making: Timely decision-making by the healthcare staff in case of any unexpected condition during childbirth can help prevent many unwanted injuries. They need to act quickly and efficiently in dangerous and undesirable situations.
According to the statistics provided by CDC, about seven birth injuries occur for every thousand children born in the US. Other countries have even worse situations. It is very alarming. Childbirth is a pivotal event in the life of a mother and her child. Therefore, it must proceed safely and efficiently. Any negligence on behalf of the medical team can cause intolerable harm. They might face legal suits because of their professional misconduct. Antenatal care, careful evaluation or monitoring of child health, providing a safe and clean environment, handling birth processes by an efficient health team, and avoiding misuse of birth tools can prevent birth injuries.