Tips to Avoid Birth Injuries

Author
Christiana Lilly
December 9, 2020

No matter how detailed of a birth plan a mother can put together, things don’t always go according to plan during delivery. Babies come early, late, be in a breech position, and emergencies can arise.

Even though not everything is under our control, there are still preventative measures that expectant mothers can take to decrease the chances of a birth injury to her or her baby. Being educated on what could and should happen is not only empowering, but it could also be lifesaving.  

How To Avoid Injuries During Pregnancy

There are many birth injuries that can be easily avoided with health practices during pregnancy. As always mothers who have questions about what is and isn’t safe during pregnancy should talk to their doctor. Here are just a few ways:

Avoiding smoking and alcohol consumption

Pregnant mothers are advised to not drink or smoke — the same chemicals that she is exposed to while smoking and drinking are passed along to the baby. That includes nicotine and thousands of other harmful ingredients in cigarettes and e-cigarettes. Smoking can also lead to an increased risk of pre-term birth, meaning babies don’t get the full 40 weeks they need to develop. These chemicals can be ingested even though second-hand smoke, so avoid places where people are smoking. 

When consuming alcohol, babies are at risk of developing fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), which can lead to growth problems, mental disability, behavioral problems, and abnormal facial features. The more a mother drinks while pregnant, the higher chance her baby has of FAS

Taking prenatal vitamins

Even if a woman is thinking about getting pregnant, doctors recommend that she start taking prenatal vitamins. This will give the mother’s body the extra vitamins she needs for a healthy baby. This includes prenatal formulas with folic acid, iron, calcium and vitamin D. There are many different brands available over the counter, so it’s best to ask your doctor what they recommend.

If the mother has any health conditions, or has delivered babies before with some health issues, doctors may recommend other vitamins to help with those conditions.

birth injury support

Exercise

Being active during pregnancy is a good way to prepare the body for delivery as well as staying healthy. This can include walking, swimming, strength training, yoga and other low-impact activities. Generally, women who worked out regularly can continue with their regular exercise regimen. However, some exercises like hot yoga, horseback riding and basketball are not recommended. It’s always a good idea to check with your doctor to discuss what activities are safe during pregnancy.

On a smaller scale, pelvic floor exercises are recommended to strengthen the pelvic floor, such as squats, which will help during delivery and help prevent tearing.

Each state has different rules for tests that babies must undergo before they are cleared to go home with their parents

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Regular doctors appointments

In the beginning of a woman’s pregnancy, she will see the doctor once a month to check that everything is going according to schedule. Doctors will check her weight, blood pressure, swelling, and the baby’s heartbeat. Ultrasounds are also conducted a few times during pregnancy. As she nears her delivery date, the appointments will increase to every other week and then every week. Mothers with special medical conditions or who are pregnant with multiples may have to see their doctor more often or require more ultrasounds.

Expectant mothers should contact their doctor if they have any questions or if something seems out of the ordinary, such as their baby not moving as much as usual. It’s better to get checked out and it turns out to be nothing than to ignore it.

How To Avoid Injuries During Delivery

After months of pregnancy, the day finally arrives for the baby to be born! It can be an exciting experience, but also scary if things aren’t going according to plan. Including all the measures mothers take during their pregnancy, there are still ways that birth injuries can be avoided during the delivery process.

First, if any complications are anticipated, it’s important for mothers to talk to their doctors ahead of time so they know what to expect and how they can plan for it. For example, if a mother experienced a birth injury from a previous delivery, the doctor may recommend a cesarean section. Or, if she has high blood pressure, issues with the placenta, or if the baby is experiencing difficulties, doctors may want to schedule an induction rather than waiting for the baby to come naturally.

It’s also important for the mother to have an advocate to speak for her when they’re not in a position to do so themselves. This can be their partner or a doula — a trained birthing coach —   who is aware of her wants and needs. They can also be there to assure the mother if her original wishes can’t be met in order to avoid a birth injury.

birth injury support

How To Avoid Injuries After Delivery

Once a baby is born, medical staff run a number of tests and screenings to make sure that they are healthy before they head home. Newborns are also looked over after delivery for any serious injuries they may have experienced during birth. Some injuries are normal. Such as bruising on the face or head, especially if instruments such as forceps were used.

Each state has different rules for tests that babies must undergo before they are cleared to go home with their parents. Most commonly, nurses will take a blood sample to screen for diseases that impact their thyroid, their ability to digest milk, Sickle cell disease and more. Some diseases are more common in certain populations, so those tests might be required in different communities. Babies will also have their hearing screened at the hospital.

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