Request a Free Consultation

What Are Common Birth Injuries?

Updated February 23, 2023 | By Wilson Kehoe Winingham staff

Nothing can compare to the experience of childbirth; it is one of the most singular and meaningful acts a person can do. While the joys of childbirth are incomparable, it may be a painful and even risky experience for both the mother and child.

Encountering a complication during childbirth is a concern that crosses the mind of every expectant parent. While injury during childbirth is never something we want to anticipate, having the right steps in place in the event that something like this does occur is important. 

Wilson Kehoe Winingham is here to help you figure out the next steps after a birth injury occurs. We understand the process of filing a birth injury lawsuit and hope to use that expertise to guide you through the process in a professional and respectful manner.

What Is a Birth Injury?

Birth injuries are injuries that come from trauma or complications before, during, or after a baby is born. Birth injuries are not to be confused with birth defects, which occur due to events in the womb prior to the birth process. In some cases, birth injuries are life-threatening to the birthing parent or child. In other cases, they may be mild and require minimal treatment. 

While lesser injuries can heal naturally, severe injuries may call for extensive treatment. If you or your child sustained harm during the birthing process as a result of a medical professional’s ignorance or negligence in Indiana, contact a birth injury attorney from Wilson Kehoe Winingham. 

Types of Birth Injuries of Newborns

Birth injuries are devastating; after all of the excitement of pregnancy, no birth should result in injury to the parent or child. Medical professionals should be there to ensure the process is smooth and filled with care. 

No parent wants to see their child in pain, especially if the problem could have been prevented. Below are some of the most common examples of birth injuries we see in Indianapolis. If you are involved in a medical malpractice incident that resulted in one of the following injuries to your child, you should contact an Indianapolis birth injury attorney to find out if you have a case.

Oxygen Deprivation

Sufficient oxygen is essential during each stage of labor. If there is any type of oxygen deprivation, the brain may suffer as a result. If a doctor does not properly monitor the infant during the birth process or leaves the baby in the birth canal for too long, birth injuries may result. Even mild oxygen deprivation can lead to serious lasting physical and mental disabilities. 

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is characterized by a lack of motor skills development, muscle spasms, and weak muscles. There is currently no cure for cerebral palsy and those with it will often need lifelong therapy. It also has a high potential to cause other lifelong impairments such as learning disabilities, speech problems, vision issues, and difficulty hearing. 

Cerebral palsy can be caused by damage to the brain during birth. If the laboring parent is not properly watched and the level of fetal distress spikes or improper techniques are used during birth, a baby may develop cerebral palsy as a result of severe hypoxic episodes. 


Hemorrhaging is when a blood vessel bursts resulting in severe bleeding. If there is bleeding in a baby’s skull from pressure during the birth process, the baby may have an intracranial or a subarachnoid hemorrhage. These can cause serious issues if not addressed immediately. 


Bleeding directly under the cranial bone is called cephalohematoma and it can result from undue pressure on a newborn’s skull during delivery. Cephalohematomas increase an infant’s risk of other issues like jaundice, anemia, meningitis, and hypotension. This can be caused by improper delivery techniques. 

Brachial Plexus Injury

A brachial plexus injury happens when nerves in the neck, shoulder, arm, hand, or upper spine are stretched or ruptured during the birth process. Damage to the upper nerves can cause Erb’s palsy. This damage can be temporary or permanent.

Facial Paralysis

An infant may lose the ability to move their face if too much pressure is applied during delivery. Techniques such as vacuum extraction or forceps removal may lead to this type of paralysis. 

Fractured Collarbones

Complicated deliveries may result in fractured bones, often the collarbone. These injuries will often heal on their own, but the baby will need to be immobilized for treatment. 

Caput Succedaneum

Caput succedaneum is when the scalp swells from pressure on the top of the head during delivery. The scalp–or portions of it–will often appear discolored or bruised. This issue typically heals on its own and is not life-threatening. However, it can still be considered a birth injury if it is due to negligence. 

Perinatal Asphyxia

Perinatal asphyxia happens when there is a deficiency of oxygen in the baby’s blood or an insufficient flow of blood during the birth process. Signs of perinatal asphyxia include labored breathing, pale complexion, shock, seizures, or comas. These symptoms can lead to other lasting disabilities. 

Spinal Cord Injuries

Some of the most serious birth injuries that can happen are spinal cord injuries. Forceful or improper delivery techniques can cause nerve damage which leads to paralysis and neurological issues.

This list of birth injuries sustained by a newborn is non-exhaustive. If your child experienced an injury during childbirth and you believe it is due to medical malpractice, do not suffer alone. Let the lawyers at Wilson Kehoe Winingham help you through this difficult time by offering you legal counsel. 

Types of Birth Injuries to Birthing Parents

Birth injuries are often thought of as only affecting the baby, but the birthing parent is at risk as well. Birth injuries to mothers can lead to lifelong pain or disability. In extreme cases, a new mother or family may be able to pursue legal damages if the injury occurs due to a medical professional’s negligence or malpractice. Below are some of the more common maternal birth injuries we see. 

Broken Bones

Bone injuries during childbirth are not uncommon. Parents may suffer from a separated pubic symphysis or fractured coccyx. A separated pubic symphysis happens when the baby’s head creates a gap between the bones of the pelvic girdle. This typically takes two to eight months to heal. A fractured coccyx can be caused by pressure during the delivery and leads to lasting pain after childbirth. 

Nerve Injuries

Nerve damage can be caused by stretching or compression during delivery. Injuries to the femoral nerves can cause pain or numbness in the legs. When pelvic or pudendal nerves are damaged, incontinence may be the result. Ongoing nerve damage is painful and debilitating and can be caused by a doctor’s negligence. 

Rupture of the Uterus

Before or during labor and delivery, a baby with a high birth weight or negligence from a doctor can cause an existing uterine scar to rupture during a vaginal birth. If the uterus ruptures, the baby or placenta shift into the abdominal cavity. This can lead to a variety of severe complications, including death. 

Uterine Inversion

If the placenta remains attached to the uterus, it has the potential to pull the uterus out during birth. This can cause fatal hemorrhaging or shock for the parent. Incomplete inversion can be addressed manually or through emergency surgery. Total inversion is much more difficult to deal with and can put the parent at a high risk of death.

Vaginal Tearing

If the vagina does not easily stretch to accommodate the baby’s head during childbirth, parts of the vaginal area may tear. Tears can also be caused by rushed births, forceps-assisted deliveries, a baby with a high birth weight, and the positioning of the baby during delivery. There are varying degrees of tears, with first-degree tears being the mildest and fourth-degree tears being the most severe. 

Birth injuries that affect the mother, child, or both can lead to extreme physical and emotional suffering. Let us take some of the burden for you so that you can focus on recovering and caring for your new child. 

Causes of Birth Injuries

When determining whether or not you have a birth injury case, you must look at the cause of the birth injuries that were sustained. Hospitals and other medical facilities have a duty to offer you the best possible care and to keep you from further harm. If your medical professional does not follow best practices during delivery, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. 

Malpractice by a medical professional can come in many different forms.  For instance, f you are allergic to a specific type of drug or you were not asked the proper screening questions prior to the procedure, it may be considered a form of negligence. As long as you are not the direct and sole cause of the birth injuries that occur, you may have some grounds for a claim.

Regardless of the cause, if you or a loved one is suffering from injuries sustained during childbirth, reach out to Wilson Kehoe Winingham for a case evaluation. 

Wrongful Death Benefits in Birth Injury Cases

There are many types of birth trauma, but the most severe is when the parent or child dies during childbirth. If a life is lost due to negligence or malpractice, surviving loved ones may be eligible for significant compensation. This is one of the hardest situations a person can endure, and we are here to help you through it. 

Wilson Kehoe Winingham Birth Injury Lawyers

Our Indianapolis birth injury law firm has seen many cases over the years. We are prepared to handle common birth injuries (video) and rare birth injuries. We’ve helped restore the lives of our clients and helped them to regain some hope during this difficult time. Birth injuries are an emotional, financial, and physical challenge. If you are not equipped with the right tools and surrounded by the right people to support you, it may seem impossible to move forward. 

Here at Wilson Kehoe Winingham, we want to help you navigate these challenges. We will provide you with the resources necessary to rebuild your life after a traumatic childbirth. Don’t hesitate, contact us today to get started with your birth injury lawsuit. 

Contact Us

Let WKW put our experience to work for you. Contact us for your free case evaluation.


Or, call us today at (317) 920-6400

Located In Indianapolis
Back to Top