Typical Causes of Mother & Child Birth Injuries

Written by Atlee Hall

Your child’s birth should be one of the most exciting times in your life. However, if your newborn or the mother of the child suffers debilitating injuries during childbirth, you may have grounds for legal action against health care providers.

Maternal and child birth injuries can have a lasting impact on your entire family. Understanding the cause of these injuries can help you hold the at-fault party accountable and get justice.

Understanding Birth Injuries

Many people assume that birth injuries can only happen to a newborn; however, the mother can also suffer critical injuries during pregnancy, labor, and childbirth.

Although minor birth injuries may be somewhat common, if a health care provider’s negligent actions caused you or your child’s birth injuries, you may have the right to sue or file a medical malpractice claim.

Common Birth Injuries Suffered by Mothers

There are multiple types of birth injuries that mothers can sustain during childbirth. Here are some of the most common:

Vaginal Tears

Vaginal tearing can occur when the skin between the anus and vagina stretches as the baby is born. Generally, perineal tears are minor. However, more extensive tearing may require reconstructive repair and have a lasting impact on the mother’s life.

First-degree tears may require minimal treatment and have a quick recovery. Second-degree tears are deeper and will typically require stitches. Third and fourth-degree tears are the most severe and may require extensive stitching.

Uterine Rupture

Uterine rupture occurs when the walls of the uterus tear during pregnancy. Generally, these are more common in mothers who have previously had a C-section.

However, if uterine ruptures are not properly treated, they can jeopardize both the mother’s and the baby’s lives. Women who suffer from a uterine rupture will often require additional cesarean sections if they choose to have more children in the future.


When a mother is pregnant and has high blood pressure, this may be a sign of preeclampsia. An indicator of preeclampsia is higher blood pressure along with protein in urine.

Untreated preeclampsia can cause renal failure, liver failure, and a variety of cardiovascular issues. It can also put the baby’s life in jeopardy.

Common Birth Injuries Suffered by Children

There are multiple types of birth injuries newborns can suffer during childbirth. Here are some of the most common you may be able to sue for:

Erb’s Palsy

One of the more common complications that occur during childbirth is shoulder dystocia. Here, the baby’s shoulder or shoulders will get stuck underneath the mother’s pelvic bone, preventing delivery.

When the health care provider delivering the baby attempts to maneuver the child out of the birth canal, it can cause severe and permanent injuries to the nerves and muscles within the shoulder and arm. Permanent disability caused by shoulder dystocia is known as Erb’s palsy.

Broken Bones

You might be shocked to learn that broken bones and fractures are some of the most common types of injuries babies sustain during childbirth. Typical causes of these fractures can include:

  • Shoulder dystocia
  • Pulling the baby too forcefully during delivery
  • Improper use of forceps or other instruments
  • Failure to properly diagnose bone diseases
  • Improper or excessive twisting of the baby during delivery

Scalp Swelling or Bleeding

Swelling on the baby’s scalp is known as caput succedaneum. This frequently occurs when health care providers use vacuum extractors on the baby’s head improperly. There is also the risk of bleeding under the baby’s scalp.

This is known as cephalohematoma. It is common with the use of forceps and vacuum extractors during delivery. If your baby develops jaundice after delivery, this may be an indicator of cephalohematoma.

Facial Paralysis

When excessive pressure is put on the baby’s face during childbirth, the facial nerves can become paralyzed. Paralysis is seen most often in instances where health care providers improperly used forceps during delivery.

Causes of Child Birth Injuries

Your birth injury lawyer will be responsible for proving how your health care provider’s negligence or medical mistakes are responsible for causing your maternal or newborn birth injuries.

However, since many of these medical conditions have the potential to occur in even the healthiest pregnancies, it will be up to your attorney to introduce evidence that shows your health care provider breached their duty of care.

Examples of medical negligence known for causing childbirth and maternal birth injuries include:

  • Failure to diagnose
  • Failure to use proper maneuvers
  • Failure to use proper safety protocols
  • Failure to deal with delivery complications correctly
  • Failure to request help from a more experienced health care provider
  • Failure to monitor and record the baby’s heart rate
  • Failure to notice signs of fetal distress
  • Failure to recognize an abnormal childbirth situation
  • Turning a mother away from the birthing unit

These are only a few of the more common ways in which your health care provider’s negligence could be responsible for causing your maternal birth injuries or your newborn’s birth injuries.

A thorough investigation, including deposing your birthing team and potential witnesses, as well as hiring experts, will reveal whether your health care provider made a mistake that cost you.

Meet with a Birth Injury Lawyer in PA Today

Maternal birth injuries and birth injuries to newborns can turn your family’s lives upside down. Understanding how your health care provider’s negligent actions caused your trauma can help you build a powerful case against them.

This could increase your chances of recovering the compensation your family deserves. Find out more about how the claims process works and what to expect from your case when you reach out to a compassionate Pennsylvania birth injury lawyer at Atlee Hall. Fill out our quick contact form or call us at (717) 393-9596 to schedule your free consultation today.