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Know about birth asphyxia before labor

Especially for women in Oregon who are pregnant for the first time, it is a good idea to learn as much as possible about pregnancy. Researching important topics ahead of time helps a mother to be proactive and to make informed decisions. Women rely on their medical team to recognize symptoms that suggest a health concern. During the birthing process, for instance, one of the issues an OB-GYN, midwife or labor nurse watch for is symptoms of asphyxia, which is lack of oxygen to a baby’s brain. 

Birth asphyxia can occur during or after delivery 

One of the most important things to know about birth asphyxia is that being born does not automatically remove the risk. A newborn infant can also suffer lack of oxygen to the brain or other organs in the body. It is possible for this condition to arise without anyone being immediately aware of it.  

How do doctors diagnose birth asphyxia? 

If symptoms of asphyxia are apparent, then it means that oxygen deprivation has already occurred or is still occurring. The following symptoms would suggest to a nurse or physician (especially an OB-GYN) that possible birth asphyxia has occurred:  

  • Poor muscle tone or weakness in a newborn’s body 
  • Trouble breathing, or not breathing at all 
  • Fetal heart rate or newborn’s heart rate too low 
  • Acidosis (too much acid in blood) 
  • Seizures 
  • Meconium in amniotic fluid (means the baby has had bowel movement in utero, which is a sign of distress) 

Nurses conduct an Apgar test immediately after birth, and then several minutes later, to check skin color, muscle tone, reflexes, etc., and to look for signs of asphyxia.  

Action must be taken right away 

If a newborn infant is struggling to breathe and birth asphyxia is suspected, the medical team can use a special breathing device to pump tiny bursts of air into the baby’s lungs. There are other treatments available, depending on exact circumstances. If a doctor fails to diagnose birth asphyxia or does not take swift and appropriate action to treat it, the situation can become life-threatening. Any parent who believes this has been the case in his or her child’s birth may wish to discuss the case with an experienced birth injury law attorney.