Posted on 05/10/2022

What is the difference between birth injury and birth trauma?

What is the difference between birth injury and birth trauma?

Birth injuries and birth trauma are commonly interchangeable, however, there is a difference between the two.

A major commonality is that both occur during labor and are due to either malpractice or negligence on behalf of the attending obstetrician, medical personnel or hospital.

We’re going to explain the difference between a birth injury and birth trauma, give examples of the typical signs and symptoms, and how either accident means you should take legal action immediately.

Finally, I’ll provide resources to a free consultation with an experienced medical malpractice attorney.

What is a birth injury?

A birth injury is an injury due to too excessive force or pressure during labor, and can affect both the mother and newborn.

The injuries for mothers can include but is not limited to:

  • Damage to the mother’s pelvis and uterine wall
  • Uterine or placental abruptions
  • Nerve damage
  • Vaginal tears
  • Anesthesia and prescription side-effects

Common birth injuries for newborns incliude:

  • Brachial Plexus injury
  • Shoulder dystocia
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Facial Paralysis

Birth injuries can be preventable if the attending obstetrician and medical staff have a plan and act quickly and efficiently.

What is birth trauma?

Childbirth trauma is defined as the physical injuries sustained during birth.

Some common birth traumas are bruising, facial injuries, fractures, lacerations, and hemorrhaging, however, there are many other forms of a traumatic birth. 

Two of the main causes of birth trauma are a large gestational weight and the incorrect use of medical tools during delivery.

A large gestational weight can complicate the delivery because the baby may be too large to fit through the birth canal. This can cause stress on the mother and child and if the delivery becomes too complicated, then an immediate cesarean delivery may be the best plan of action.

The attending physician should have a prenatal plan to ensure a safe birth and reduce possible risks.

Two of the main medical instruments used during a complicated labor are forceps and vacuum extractors. 

Forceps and vacuum extractors help the obstetrician pull the baby out of the birth canal. 

These instruments exert pressure on the baby in some form so it’s imperative that your physician and the hospital staff act precisely and carefully, and assess any risks.

Signs and symptoms of birth injuries and birth trauma

Serious birth injuries  in the mother are noticeable during the time of the injury or trauma. 

The birth process is already painful so it may be difficult for a mother to differentiate any pain other than labor. 

Common signs include:

  • Bruising
  • Bleeding
  • Tearing
  • Increased or dropped heart rate
  • Signs of infection

Signs and symptoms of either a birth injury or trauma in your baby may not be as visible immediately.

In fact, some of the most common medical conditions associated with birth injuries and birth traumas to newborns typically do not appear for one to two years of their life. 

The symptoms of these health conditions from birth injuries are mostly noticeable in developmental delays and discrepancies.

Developmental delays are delays or disabilities in the widely accepted and stardardized milestones. Starting immediately after birth and up to toddler ages, there are specific milestones that a child should meet. 

This can include social skills, physical coordination and movement, mental cognition and reasoning, and auditory and visual skills. 

Sometimes the symptoms associated with a birth injury and birth trauma are more visible early-on, such as with cerebral palsy.

Cerebral palsy is a type of brain injury that causes severe brain damage. 

This birth injury can severely limit some of your child’s independent capabilities and will require lifelong therapy to maintain their best life.

If you suspect your child has a birth injury or birth trauma, then you should set up a consultation with an experienced medical malpractice attorney.

How is birth injury and birth trauma treated?

The answer to this depends on the type of birth injury or birth trauma and victim.

Some birth injuries are minor and will heal on their own, like with minor vaginal tearing. However, there are some instances which would require surgery or stitching. 

For example, if your baby has a large gestational weight and you have a difficult labor, then you may need an episiotomy to open and enlarge the vaginal canal to assist with birth.

In this situation, you may need stitches to recover.

Fractures or broken bones, you or your baby may need surgery or specific procedures to heal.

In more severe cases, such as hemorrhaging, you or your baby must receive immediate medical attention. 

During any time they suspect a birth injury or trauma, your attending physician must have a plan and provide you and your baby with the standard level of care efficiently and promptly.

Take legal action against preventable birth injury and birth trauma

Although mistakes happen, negligence or malpractice, must be brought to justice.

The most common types of medical negligence or malpractice associated with birth injuries and birth traumas include:

  • Delayed or misdiagnosis
  • Failure to act promptly
  • Delayed c-section
  • Error in providing anesthesia or epidural
  • Error in providing birth techniques and procedures to assist delivery
  • Error or misuse of medical tools 

A professional birth injury lawyer can help you pursue legal action against a hospital, or the attending obstetrician, for negligent care.

Negligent care can have lifelong effects on not only the mother and child, but the entire family as well.

You should file a birth injury medical malpractice lawsuit to receive the compensation you deserve.

It may seem intimidating when seeking legal advice, especially with consultation fees, court procedures, and all of the legal-lingo. 

When you set up a consultation, we recommend preparing so that you can get the most out of the meeting.  

You want to give them all of the facts and proof of your claim so they can provide you with their best possible outcome for your case.

Contact the experienced and trusted medical malpractice team at Grover Lewis Johnson.

They will listen to your story with empathy and be able to share their experience fighting birth injury and birth trauma lawsuits. 

They will fearlessly fight for you every step of the way. 

Fill out our intake form to set up a no-cost consultation and get started.