A breech birth occurs when the baby is in the breech position (either the buttocks or the feet are positioned to descend toward the birth canal). Under normal circumstances, the baby is born head first. If the baby is in the breech position, a physician should make every effort to identify this complication, and if possible, turn the child around before delivery. Most breech babies are delivered via C-section because serious birth injuries can result from a breech presentation.
Breech Birth Injuries
Injuries associated with breech deliveries include:
- Umbilical cord prolapsed. An obstetric emergency, it occurs when the umbilical cord becomes compressed by the baby’s body as the he or she moves through the birth canal. This cuts off the baby’s oxygen (hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy) and blood supply.
- Nuchal cord. An obstetric emergency in which the umbilical cord is wrapped around the baby’s neck.
- Fetal distress. The stress and pressure of a breech delivery may cause the infant’s heart rate to change, leading to a lack of oxygen (birth asphyxia).
- Nerve damage. The baby risks nerve damage if the head gets caught in the birth canal or if one or both arms are wrapped around the back of the neck. The doctor’s attempt to dislodge the baby may result in Brachial plexus injury or Erb’s palsy (injury to the shoulder nerves).
- Head trauma.Head trauma may result from the head getting caught in the birth canal. Injuries include bruising, lacerations, hemorrhages (brain bleeds), and brain damage.
- Cervical spinal injury. If the baby has a hyper-extended head prior to delivery, a cervical spinal injury may occur.
What If Your Baby Was Injured During a Breech Birth?
If your baby was born via breech delivery and was later diagnosed with a serious condition such as cerebral palsy, mental retardation, or Erb’s palsy, it may be due to medical negligence. Your doctor or medical staff may have:
- Failed to identify that the baby was in the breech position
- Failed to try rotating maneuvers
- Mistakenly proceeded with a vaginal delivery
- May have failed to timely order or perform a necessary c-section