Labor and Delivery Injuries

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Labor and delivery injuries can encompass a wide range of issues affecting either the newborn or the mother during the process of childbirth.

For the Newborn

Some of the injuries that can happen to newborns during labor or delivery include:

Brachial Plexus Injuries (Erb’s Palsy)

These injuries occur when the brachial plexus, the network of nerves that sends signals from the spine to the shoulder, arm, and hand, is damaged. They typically occur during a difficult delivery, such as shoulder dystocia, where the baby’s shoulder gets stuck after the head is delivered. The result can be weakness, loss of feeling, or paralysis in the arm, which might require physical therapy or, in severe cases, surgery.

Cerebral Palsy

This group of disorders is primarily associated with abnormal brain development or damage to the developing brain that affects a child’s ability to control their muscles. It can occur when there is hypoxia (lack of oxygen) or asphyxia during labor, leading to permanent movement disorders. These conditions can vary in severity, some requiring lifelong care and physical therapy.

Perinatal Asphyxia

This condition arises when the baby does not receive adequate oxygen before, during, or right after birth. It can lead to various complications, including hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), which is serious and can cause lasting brain damage or delayed development.

Intracranial Hemorrhage

This refers to bleeding under the skull but outside the brain (subdural hemorrhage) or within the brain tissue itself (intracerebral hemorrhage). Common in premature infants, it can result from physical trauma during delivery or a natural vulnerability in the baby’s blood vessels.


The most common fracture during birth is to the clavicle or collarbone. This can occur during a difficult delivery or with the use of tools like forceps or a vacuum. Typically, these heal well with little intervention, but they can cause pain and limit movement in the arm temporarily.

Caput Succedaneum

This is a significant swelling of the soft tissues of the baby’s scalp that develops as the baby travels through the birth canal. The swelling generally decreases within a few days without treatment, but it’s often alarming to parents.


This is a localized effusion of blood between the skull and its covering periosteum without breaking the skin. It is confined to one of the cranial bones and usually appears several hours after birth. While this condition generally resolves on its own, it can sometimes lead to jaundice as the red blood cells break down.

Facial Nerve Injury

This can happen when pressure is applied to the baby’s face during delivery or when forceps are used for assistance. The injury might cause temporary or permanent weakness on one side of the face. Most cases heal over time and often do not require extensive treatment.

Final Thoughts

The prevention and management of these injuries depend on good prenatal care, careful monitoring during labor, and prompt medical intervention when issues arise. Healthcare providers must recognize risk factors and symptoms early to mitigate potential injuries and ensure the health of both mother and child.

If you or your baby have been impacted by labor or delivery injuries as a result of medical negligence, reach out to Gray and White today. Call (502) 210-8942 or fill out our online form to request a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.