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What are the most common temporary birth injuries?

As an expectant mother in Oregon, your main concerns throughout your pregnancy are your baby’s health, safety and welfare. The last thing you want to think about is the possibility of your baby suffering a birth injury. Sadly, however, these injuries do occur, although many of them are not serious and leave no lasting ill effects.

As the name implies, a birth injury occurs during the birthing process. Stanford Children’s Health explains that the risks of your baby receiving a birth injury increase under the following conditions:

  • Your baby is premature, born before your 37th week of pregnancy.
  • Your baby is in the wrong birthing position, such as in a breech birth where his or her buttocks are lowermost in your birth canal.
  • You labor is difficult and/or prolonged.
  • Your baby is exceedingly large, weighing more than eight pounds, 13 ounces.
  • The size and shape of your pelvis are inadequate to allow your baby to be born vaginally.

Bruising or forceps marks

Probably the most common birth injury is bruising caused by the birthing process itself. In addition, the forceps your doctor uses to aid the delivery can leave marks on your baby’s head or face. Generally bruising and forceps marks are only temporary and do not constitute serious injury.

Subconjunctival hemorrhage

Do not be dismayed if one or both of your baby’s eyes have a bright red band in the white part of his or her eyes. This condition, known as subconjunctival hemorrhage, is very common and caused by the birthing process breaking small blood vessels in your baby’s eye(s). The little blood vessels usually heal themselves within seven to 10 days after birth and do not permanently damage your baby’s eye(s).

Caput succedaneum

Another common birth injury is caput succedaneum, a temporary swelling of the soft tissues in your baby’s scalp. Again, the birthing process itself caused this condition, especially if your doctor delivered your baby by means of vacuum extraction. The swelling usually goes down within a few days after birth.


Still another common and longer-lasting birth injury is cephalohematoma, a scary sounding word that means your baby has a bleeding area underneath one of his or her cranial bones. If your baby develops a lump on his or her head several hours after birth, this is the classic sign of cephalohematoma. This condition is not as bad as it sounds, and the lump disappears between two weeks and three months after birth. Your baby, however, may develop jaundice, i.e., a yellowing of his or her skin, during this time.

This is general information only and not intended to provide legal advice.