Preventing Birth Trauma Before Labor Begins
Although advancements in medical technology has helped make childbirth a safer process than it used to be, it can still be very dangerous. There are many complications that can arise and cause harm to both the mother or the child. According to the World Health Organization, 830 people around the world die every day because of complications related to pregnancy or childbirth. Additionally, 28,000 people every year are born with a birth injury.
It’s important to note that there is a difference between birth injuries and birth defects. Birth defects form before the child is born and are caused by things like genetic predispositions. Birth injuries are injuries that happen shortly before or during the birthing process, typically when labor and delivery becomes complicated. In many cases, birth injuries tend to be the result of improper use of delivery tools, delayed C-sections, improper fetal monitoring, and communication errors between the medical staff.
There are many different types of birth injuries a child could possibly sustain, ranging from cerebral palsy and broken bones to bell’s palsy, lacerations, and brachial plexus, just to name a few. Some types of birth injuries can be treated and will improve over time, but many injuries have a serious, long-lasting impact on the child’s life. While some birth injuries are unavoidable, it’s estimated that about 30% of birth injuries were preventable. So, what can you do to reduce the risk of your child sustaining a birth injury?
One of the best things you can do to ensure a safe delivery is to make sure you find a good obstetrician who you feel comfortable with. While good prenatal care is extremely important for all pregnancies, it’s particularly important if there are certain factors that put you at a higher risk for complications during pregnancy and childbirth, such as diabetes or maternal age. If your pregnancy is considered a high risk, be sure to ask potential obstetricians about what kind of experience they have in working with patients like you. You may also want to consult a perinatologist, who can provide more thorough prenatal testing and care.
Strong communication with your doctor during pregnancy is also very important. Pregnancy causes so many changes in a mother’s body, it can be easy to overlook little things that might actually be an early warning sign of a problem. During your pregnancy, keep a journal to record how you’re feeling each day. If you notice something about your body that isn’t quite right, make a note of it so you can bring it up with your doctor. Don’t worry about boring your doctor with insignificant details — it’s better to provide more information than is needed than it is to risk not giving your doctor potentially important information.
When choosing where you’d like like to give birth, be sure to ask about what experience they have in handling birth complications and what steps they’re taking to make giving birth a safer process. Since communication errors are such a common cause of preventable birth injuries, don’t forget to ask about which communication strategies they use. TeamSTEPPS or SBAR communication strategies are designed to include training for handling emergency situations.