There are a number of factors that can increase the risk that an infant might suffer an injury during labor and delivery. A part of the doctor’s job is monitoring the pregnancy and to reduce these risk factors when possible, ensuring the safest labor and delivery possible for both the mother and the child. When a doctor fails to uphold his duty and injuries occur, it may be medical negligence.
Some of the most common childbirth injury risk factors include:
- Extremely large babies
- Unusual presentation, such as breach or face-, brow-, or shoulder-first
- Long, difficult second phase of labor (pushing)
- Using forceps or a vacuum extractor device during delivery
- Prematurity or going significantly past their due date
Birth injuries occur in a variety of ways and reducing the risk of some may increase the risk of others. Doctors may need to discuss this with parents and make difficult decisions in some cases.
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For example, the increased risk posed by a large baby or unusual presentation is avoidable by delivering the baby by cesarean section (C-section), especially when there is a chance of cephalopelvic disproportion (a baby too large for the birth canal) and a failure to progress may occur during an attempted vaginal delivery.
While C-sections do have risks, the risks may be lower than those posed by the possibility of prolonged and difficult labor and delayed delivery.