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As much as couples may try to get themselves ready for the birthing process, the simple truth is that — absent one parent having an M.D. — there is virtually no way that they can prepare for every possible medical outcome.
Indeed, while expecting parents may have some understanding of certain birth injuries, there are many unfamiliar medical terms that will undoubtedly sound very frightening if used in the context of describing the condition of their own newborn.
In recognition of this reality, today’s post will briefly describe some of the more common birth injuries that are perhaps not as dire as they may otherwise sound to the uninitiated.
What is caput succedaneum?
This condition describes a noticeable swelling or even bruising of the soft tissues on the baby’s scalp that sometimes develops as a natural consequence of delivery through the birth canal. Indeed, those babies delivered via vacuum extraction are more prone to developing caput succedaneum. The good news is that this swelling and/or bruising typically abates on its own within a few days.
What is cephalohematoma?
This condition describes bleeding that develops under one of the cranial bones and which often manifests itself as a lump on the baby’s head just a few hours after birth. The child’s body will reabsorb the blood over the course of time and, depending on the size of the cephalohematoma, this process could take anywhere from a few weeks to several months.
What is subconjunctival hemorrhage?
This condition describes the red band that may appear in the white portion of the newborn’s eyes and is caused by the rupture of small blood vessels. Subconjunctival hemorrhage is actually very common and typically results in no lasting damage to the eyes. Parents can anticipate seeing the redness absorbed by the body anywhere from a week to ten days.
As reassuring as this can be, the sad and unfortunate reality is that many birth injuries do not simply heal on their own. Making matters worse, sometimes they can even be attributed to negligence on the part of the medical professionals who parents trusted to provide quality care.
In these scenarios, it’s imperative to consider speaking with an experienced legal professional who can investigate what went wrong, outline your rights and options under the law, and pursue the justice that your family needs.
Source: Stanford Children’s Health, “Birth injury,” Accessed Jan. 14, 2015