When Birth Injury Happens
The joy and excitement of bringing a new life into the world can come to a screeching halt as soon as the parents realize that a birth injury occurred. And it’s more common than most people realize.
There are approximately 28,000 live births annually in America that suffer from a birth injury. That translates to about 78 injured infants per day and three (3) per hour. Most injuries clear up on their own or heal quickly with treatment, but often not before the stress and overwhelming emotional distress sets in.
However, some injuries take more time and attention to heal while others can lead to lifelong challenges or even be life-threatening. In almost all cases, birth injuries may be avoided. But you do need to know some basic birth injury prevention tips to minimize the risks before it’s too late.
Know, Recognize, and Treat Maternal Risk Factors
Birth injuries can affect the mother as well as the child. Even though medical science is light years ahead of what it was just years ago, childbirth is still the 6th leading cause of death for women in the US. If you must know, this accounts for 700 maternal fatalities annually.
A pregnant mother’s personal health risks can easily increase the chance for a premature or extended pregnancy. These can, in turn, lead to unexpected trauma, aggressive delivery, and eventual birth injuries.
Maternal risk factors often include a history of previously high-risk pregnancies, gestational or previous diabetes, HIV, or having high blood pressure. Experiencing pre-eclampsia, being too young or too close to menopause, and being under or overweight are also risk factors. But these conditions can be treated and monitored in order to help with birth injury prevention.
Make and Maintain an Early Pregnancy Plan
Choose the right obstetrician with plenty of experience. If you’re over 35, consider also consulting a perinatologist (maternal medicine specialist).
Start prenatal care early and follow it throughout your pregnancy. This includes special vitamins or medication, the right diet, drinking plenty of water, the right amount of sleep, exercising throughout the pregnancy, and keeping all medical appointments.
Also be sure to quit all potentially dangerous vices such as alcohol, cigarettes, and unnecessary medications as soon as you discover you’re pregnant. If not earlier. That includes avoiding any OTC medications not cleared by your doctor.
Furthermore, avoid certain food choices that could be potentially hazardous to your fetus. Check with your doctor to verify what that entails. And contact your doctor if you come down with a cold or if anything feels weird or especially unusual during the pregnancy.
Keep a Pregnancy and Birth Journal
Both parents of the child should have active and open communication with the hospital, doctor, and medical team. But important details all-too-often get lost in the shuffle.
A simple solution is to keep a journal, but this isn’t for your emotional health. It’s to log all the important facts during your pregnancy. The journal can include names of medical care providers who saw you, the dates of various appointments, and types and doses of medications prescribed.
Details, some of which end up being important, become fuzzy after birth. Make sure to include any specific thoughts or impressions of the staff, doctors, and the hospital itself. Also jot down your thoughts on the care and behavior of your medical team upon arrival at the hospital and during labor and delivery.
Have your spouse, partner, or birthing coach take over if you can’t. Not only will the staff be on high alert knowing you’re documenting everything, but the written documentation may eventually be needed. These can help your Michigan medical malpractice attorney file a claim in the event of a birth injury.