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After long and strenuous labour and delivery, most new mothers want nothing more than to see their baby, ensure everything is okay, and then just rest. But when you look at your child for the first time and see that it has a very enlarged head, you can’t help but worry.
Fortunately, while caput succedaneum (the medical term for a swollen scalp following birth) may look slightly scary, medical staff will be quick to reassure a new mother and her loved ones that it is not a life-threatening condition and most often heals on its own within a few days
Scalp swelling most often occurs after difficult head-first deliveries when there is significant pressure on the baby’s head, during forced extractions with vacuums or if a doctor using forceps applies too much pressure with the tools. However, it can also occur if membranes rupture too early when a fetus is still in utero.
Trying to drain the scalp to reduce the swelling may do more harm than good if it causes infection, and normally a medical providers will simply advise new mothers to let it heal on its own. Nevertheless, while caput succedaneum is usually benign in itself, it can cause secondary birth injuries if not monitored.
If red blood cells from the swelling cause bruising and are broken down into excess bilirubin, a newborn’s underdeveloped liver may not be able to process it quickly and efficiently. Severe jaundice, if left untreated, may develop into a serious condition called kernicterus that can cause significant and permanent brain damage.
Common Forms of Birth Injuries
If a medical provider’s negligent actions or inaction breaches standards of care and results in serious harm to a mother, fetus or newborn, it’s called obstetrical malpractice. Kernicterus, for example, is a preventable birth injury that can be avoided if a medical provider monitors newborns at risk and commences treatment before the condition causes harm.
Other common birth injuries that may occur during pregnancy, labour, delivery and in the period immediately following birth include:
- Cerebral palsy and other brain injuries – CP is caused by damage to or malformation of the brain while in utero, during delivery or from some post-birth circumstances. A developing brain could be injured due to placental insufficiency (inadequate oxygen or nutrient transmission from a damaged placenta), maternal or in utero infection, or perinatal asphyxia, hypoxia or anoxia (absence or deprivation of oxygen). Signs of fetal distress (an indication of potential brain damage) include fetal tachycardia (an abnormally fast heart rate).
- Spinal cord injuries, nerve damage, fractures – Failure to test for or diagnose spina bifida (the vertebrae do not enclose nerves around the spine) in utero can lead to significant post-birth injury and disability. Traumatic births, including forced extractions, can cause injuries to soft tissue, broken bones, or other problems. Shoulder dystocia (when the baby’s head is delivered but its shoulder’s are wedged behind the woman’s pelvis) may result in brachial plexus injuries (stretching or tearing of the nerve network between the neck and shoulders).
When You’ve Been Hurt, We Can Help
The birth of a child should be a joyous time – but for new parents dealing with a serious birth injury, there is pain, sorrow and grief. If a medical provider’s negligence has harmed you or someone you love, Howie, Sacks and Henry is ready to help you in the Niagara region.
Recognized as one of Canada’s top personal injury firms, HSH has cultivated expertise in the challenging area of obstetrical malpractice law. Our team of birth injury lawyers has the knowledge, skill, and experience to handle even the most complex cases.
An HSH birth injury lawyer will be pleased to arrange a meeting with you in your own home in the Niagara area or at a nearby consultation office. We believe distance or ability to travel should never be a barrier to high quality legal representation.
With our reputation for client-centred service, you can be confident that we will always see you as more than file. In this time overwhelming and stressful period of your life, HSH birth injury lawyers with treat you with the kindness, compassion and respect you deserve.
After listening to your birth story with great empathy, we’ll outline your legal options and advise you on how to make a claim for compensation and damages for the pain, suffering and losses you’ve experienced. Our team will also assist you in facilitating medical tests, evaluations and therapies needed to strengthen your case and help you or your loved one with rehabilitation and recovery.
When you or someone you love has been hurt by the negligence of incompetence of a medical practitioner helping to manage a pregnancy and birth, trust the team at HSH to be on your side and by your side in Niagara. We will do our utmost to give you hope there are better days ahead.
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We serve the Niagara and surrounding areas. When you think Birth Injuries Lawyer Niagara, Think Howie, Sacks & Henry.