After a baby is born, you may be concerned if you do not hear crying. This is one of just many signs that can let you know if your baby is struggling to breathe. You may notice other indications immediately after the birth, such as odd noises when inhaling or exhaling or changing color in the skin. A few hours after delivery, you may notice odd body positioning, a lack of alertness, and wheezing.
Doctors need to be on the lookout for respiratory problems or injuries in the infant. These symptoms are dangerous enough on their own for the baby’s health, but they also can indicate the possibility of a more serious health problem.
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Signs of Breathing Problems After Birth
Doctors should be aware of the possibility of an infant’s breathing problems immediately after delivery. Still, parents will also want to watch out for possible signs of breathing issues, just in case a doctor does not notice. Some clear signs that a newborn is struggling to breathe include:
- Rapid breathing rate. The newborn baby may be breathing faster than the normal rate of 40 to 60 times per minute when awake, according to MedlinePlus, or more than 20 to 30 times per minute when sleeping.
- Significant skin movement. The infant’s stomach may suck noticeably inward, and the skin in the chest and neck may pull while breathing.
- Head bobbing. The infant may move his or her head back and forth with each breath.
- Open mouth and nostrils. The infant may flare the nostrils and leave his or her mouth open while breathing.
- Clammy skin. The baby’s skin may feel sweaty or clammy, indicating a potential health issue.
What Happens to a Baby Who Is Breathing Too Hard?
When your newborn is not able to breathe properly, he or she may show some signs unrelated to breathing. These may include:
- Coughing or wheezing when waking up.
- Significant fatigue.
- Stopping in the middle of eating to rest.
- Pulling away from the bottle or breast to take a breath.
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Types of Breathing Conditions
A number of different breathing disorders can affect a newborn’s ability to take in enough oxygen for normal body function. Which disorder may occur depends on if the baby has:
- Too little oxygen in the blood.
- Too much oxygen in the blood.
- Widely varying levels of oxygen in the blood.
- Too much carbon dioxide in the blood.
If a doctor fails to diagnose or treat the breathing problems quickly enough, the baby could experience significant and long-lasting health problems.
Damage to Brain and Organs
An improper level of oxygen in the blood during delivery or after birth can result in damage to the brain or other organs. Some of the conditions that may occur when oxygen levels are too low or too high for extended periods include:
- Cerebral palsy.
- Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy.
- Periventricular leukomalacia.
- Permanent injury to the lungs.
- Collapsed lungs.
- Respiratory distress syndrome.
- Transient tachypnea.
Retinopathy of Prematurity
In babies born prematurely, the blood vessels in the eyes may not have fully developed. Yet, a common treatment option for breathing problems after birth is giving the baby oxygen. If the newborn is given too much oxygen, this can lead to permanent damage in these blood vessels, and even blindness.
Defending Your Baby From the Negligence of Medical Personnel
It is relatively common for a baby to need a bit of help with breathing immediately after birth. Generally, such breathing problems go away after an intervention from the doctor. Other times, the breathing issues may continue, and medical personnel will have to attempt more aggressive breathing treatments.
Occasionally, the baby may not show signs of breathing problems until several hours after birth, leaving you wondering, “How do you know if your baby is struggling to breathe?” Any time a newborn is having difficulty with breathing, the doctor should pay close attention and take the time to do a full examination, determining exactly how to proceed.
If you believe a doctor’s error in diagnosis led to your baby’s breathing problems or lack of treatment made the problems worse, you have the right to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit and try to recover damages. The team at the Birth Injury Lawyers Group is ready to defend your rights. Call us for a free consultation at (800) 222-9529 right away.