Common Birth Injuries to Infants and Mothers

birth injuries

A birth injury or birth trauma is an injury to the baby or mother that occurs during the birth process. Birth Injuries to infants and mothers can be life-altering. If you or your child is suffering from a birth injury because of the negligence of a doctor or other medical professional, you deserve to be made-whole with a fair settlement. Contact an experienced birth injury lawyer in your area who can help you navigate the process.

What causes birth injuries?

There are many different factors that can increase the risk of a birth injury including very large babies, premature babies, prolonged labor, the mother’s pelvis being too small to birth the baby vaginally, breech birthing position, and even maternal obesity.

In some cases, birth injuries occur because of medical negligence that can lead to fetal oxygen deprivation, trauma from forceps, broken bones, and other injuries.

Common birth injuries to infants and mothers

There is a long list of potential birth injuries to infants and mothers. We’re going to take a look at some of the most common.

Common infant birth injuries:

Cerebral palsy

Two to three out of every 1,000 children are born with cerebral palsy. The condition impedes motor skill development, and creates muscle spasms and weak muscles. Cerebral palsy is often caused by brain damage during birth.

Brachial palsy

Brachial palsy happens when the group of nerves that supports the arms and hands is injured during birth, most commonly when the baby’s shoulder gets stuck during delivery. The infant loses the ability to flex and rotate the arm.

Caput succedaneum

Caput succedaneum is defined by significant swelling of the soft tissues of the baby’s scalp; it happens as babies travel through the birth canal. Infants who are delivered by vacuum extraction are more likely to experience this condition.


Cephalohematoma is bleeding between the skull bone and its fibrous covering, causing a raised bump on the baby’s head that usually appears a few hours after birth. Infants who experience a difficult birthing process are more vulnerable to this condition.

Spinal cord injuries

A spinal cord injury can lead to paralysis and neurological problems. Spinal cord injuries can happen with overly forceful use of forceps, which leads to nerve or cord damage.

Bruising or marks to the face

Babies delivered by forceps or vacuum extraction are more likely to have bruising or marks on their faces as they are extracted from the birth canal.

Facial paralysis

Nerve damage to the facial nerves can cause facial paralysis. This condition may be caused by pressure to the infant’s face during labor or birth or when forceps are used during delivery.


Clavicle or collarbone fractures can happen during labor and delivery when delivery doesn’t go smoothly or in a breech delivery.

Perinatal Asphyxia

Perinatal asphyxia happens when there is an oxygen deficiency in the blood or when a baby’s oxygen supply is insufficient before the baby is born or right after the baby is born. The baby may experience seizures or a coma in severe cases.

Common maternal birth injuries:

Vaginal tears

Vaginal tears can happen during childbirth when the vagina doesn’t stretch easily to fit the infant’s head as it passes through the birth canal. Tears can also be caused by deliveries where the baby comes too quickly, forceps are used, or the baby is in a difficult position. Vaginal tears range from 1st degree to 4th degree. When the muscle tears, the laceration can go all the way down to the anus, the anal sphincter, or the rectum.

Uterine rupture

A uterine rupture can happen before or during labor and delivery. It typically happens when a baby is abnormally large and the strain causes a uterine scar from a prior C-section to burst during a vaginal delivery. The rupture can cause the baby, the placenta or both to go into the mother’s abdominal cavity. The result can be hemorrhaging or even death.

Broken bones

women can experience broken bones from childbirth such as a fractured coccyx. This injury typically occurs as a result of pressure from the baby’s head during delivery.

Uterine inversion

Uterine inversion occurs when the placenta stays attached to the uterus instead of separating before exiting the body. As it exits it pulls the uterus out with it, which can lead to fatal hemorrhaging or shock.

Pelvic organ prolapses

The uterus and bladder can both become prolapsed as a result of pregnancy and vaginal delivery. The stages of severity run from 0 to 4. A stage 4 prolapse is when the organ slips outside of the body.

Nerve injury

Nerve damage is a potential risk during childbirth. It can cause a range of issues from weakness or numbness in the legs to incontinence. Nerve damage during delivery can happen when nerves are compressed during delivery or when tissue is stretched.

The Seattle Personal Injury Attorneys You Want on Your Side

The personal injury attorneys at Tinker Law Firm have been winning birth injury, medical malpractice, and personal injury cases for individuals and their loved ones in Seattle and across Washington State since 1974. We seek justice for injury victims who have been harmed by preventable medical errors, and the negligent or abusive actions of another. Our clients pay no fees or expenses to file a personal injury claim; our firm advances out-of-pocket expenses and is only reimbursed when we recover a settlement on your behalf. Do not delay; personal injury claims in Washington State have a statute of limitations, which means they must be filed within a certain time from the date of the injury.

Call us now at 206-842-1000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled and experienced injury attorneys.