A Guide for Parents | The Legal and Emotional Implications of Birth Injuries

Welcoming a new life into your family is one of the most special days of your life, but the news that baby or mother has suffered from a birthing injury can be devastating. Your initial reaction may be to ignore your needs and focus entirely on your child but it’s still important for parents to take care of themselves. 

Many legal and emotional implications arise after a birth injury but seeking the support you need can help you and your family take the first step forward in healing and closure. 

Understanding Birth Injuries 

A birthing injury can be classified as any physical injury experienced by either mother or baby during childbirth. Common birthing injuries include bruising, broken bones, damage to the perineal area and the pelvic floor. Cerebral Palsy, Erb’s Palsy and brain damage are also potential birthing injuries.

These can occur due to your baby being in distress or in an awkward position, resulting in the use of forceps, a ventouse, caesarean birth or other intervention.

Thankfully, injuries during birth are relatively rare and, in most cases, the baby will be fine. But having a baby doesn’t always follow your birth plan and complications can still happen, sometimes as a result of medical negligence. 

The Emotional Toll 

Regardless of its level of severity, birth injuries can be a deeply traumatic experience for both parents and baby. There can be significant devastating effects on the physical and/or emotional well-being of the entire family, especially if the birth injuries lead to lifetime complications. 

As a parent whose child has experienced such an ordeal, it may be your natural response to feel a sense of shame or sadness and ignore your own care needs. Such trauma can result in the development of depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other common mood disorders. 

Currently, as many as eight out of 10 women in the UK suffer from postnatal depression and the likelihood of fathers developing it increases dramatically when the mother is diagnosed. It can affect your relationships with each other and yourself, so it’s important to seek medical and legal support if you’re experiencing birth injury trauma.

The Legal Consideration 

If you or your child have suffered due to a failure in the healthcare received during childbirth, then you should contact a birth injury solicitor to find out if you have a compensation claim. Though it can’t reverse what you and your family have endured, it can help cover any financial costs the injury has resulted in and help you get some closure. 

It’s possible that medical negligence has occurred and you have grounds for legal action if healthcare professionals: 

  • Fail to identify signs of baby’s distress 
  • Delay delivery leading to loss of life or injury 
  • Deliver the baby with excessive force 
  • Are inexperienced and fail to recognise the urgent needs for successful delivery 

Support and Resources 

It’s important to remember that it is normal to experience a wide range of emotions, including guilt and helplessness. However, when these emotions develop into something more serious, it is time to seek some professional support. Many parents who experience birth trauma see significant improvements with the right intervention. 

While specialist solicitors can help you seek the legal justice you deserve, you should also contact a medical professional who can support you with all your physical and psychological needs. There are also charities such as Mind and the Birth Trauma Association that have the resources to care for anyone who has suffered the consequences of birth injuries. 

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