The more you know: Birth injuries

No one is perfect. No labor experience is perfect. But unless a professional tells you something is abnormal, you don’t go in expecting trauma.

I am grateful every day that it was me who sustained injury rather than my son.

That’s not always the case. And sometimes both mother and baby are injured in severe and lasting ways. I’m not writing this to scare anyone. I’m writing this because knowledge is power. Among all the getting ready for baby and labor and delivery books I read, I never encountered information about the risks to the mother’s pelvis or that the pelvis could be a risk factor for injury to the child.

I was doing some reading online today and found this site: BirthInjury.org. It’s a network for families of children who sustained birth injuries, including Brachial Plexus and Cerebral Palsy.

The site lists the mother’s “pelvic size or shape” as a risk factor for Shoulder Dystocia, the cause of “virtually all” permanent brachial plexus injuries.

The birthing process can be complicated by either a small pelvis or an unusual shape to the pelvis. Either one increases the likelihood of the baby getting stuck. The size and shape of the pelvis should be determined in the first prenatal examination. Unfortunately many doctors and midwives fail to perform this basic procedure.

To be clear about my experience, while it is true my son was “stuck” in the birth canal, it was not his shoulder that was stuck. He was “crowned” for several hours, but was completely inside my body until after I felt the tear at my pelvis.

To all of the families out there who live every day with the effects of birth injury, you have my upmost respect and support. I will do my best to raise awareness of the the important role the pelvis plays in childbirth.

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