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Uncommon Events in Pregnancy, Delivery and the Post Partum Period

Most mothers and their babies experience this period without serious problems, however, there are some uncommon risks. Problems could involve the mother's health, the baby's health, or both. Your physician and nurses will monitor you and your baby carefully for early signs of possible problems. They will do their best to identify them early, and to explain what is occurring and what treatment options are available to you. 

Birth trauma or birth injuries are a result of the birth process and are common with maternal obesity, large babies, prolonged or rapid labor, and babies who are not in the correct position during labor and delivery. Also premature babies are susceptible to birth injuries because they are more fragile than full-term infants. This type of trauma happens in 2% of deliveries.

Complications of Pregnancy:

Bruising and swelling of the scalp can occur as a result of the baby passing through the birth canal. In most cases the injury is not severe and the swelling and bruising usually goes away within the first few days. Babies are monitored closely to make sure their blood counts are stable and they do not have complications from the body trying to dissolve the bruise.

Brachial plexus nerve injuries are injuries to the group of nerves that run to the arms and hands. This is an unpreventable and unpredictable event.  It occurs in utero near birth and is attributed to compression on this nerve as the baby descends into the pelvis. Some cases involve only bruising and swelling of this nerve, others may have decreased ability to flex or rotate the shoulder, arm and hand. As the swelling of the nerve resolves, the baby will regain movement of the arm. In very rare instances, permanent nerve damage may occur. Physical therapy may be necessary as this birth injury heals.

  • About 6 of every 1,000 women will receive a blood transfusion after giving birth. The risks associated with blood transfusions include an allergic reaction, fever, or infection. 
  • A few babies are born too early to survive, or have serious medical problems.
  • Of every 1,000 babies, 6-7 die in the uterus after 20 weeks gestation, often called stillbirth or fetal death.  4-5 babies per 1,000 born will die shortly after, or within one month of birth.
  • About 3 in 1,000 mothers develop blood clots in their legs after birth.  This is more likely to occur after c-section.
  • In 1-2 of 1,000 births, a hysterectomy must be performed to stop heavy, uncontrollable bleeding. 

Very, very, rarely mothers don’t survive childbirth. This occurs in less than 1 in 10,000 births, and causes might include severe bleeding, high blood pressure, blood clots in the lungs and problems caused by other medical conditions.  

Be assured that with careful prenatal supervision to keep health problems under control, you likely will have a healthy baby.

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