What is birth injury?
Birth injuries are physical injuries experienced during childbirth, and can affect either the mother or the baby. In newborn babies, a birth injury (often called ‘neonatal birth trauma’) can include many things, from bruising to a broken bone.
In mothers, birth injuries range from tearing in the vaginal area to damage to the pelvic floor.
Birth injuries in mothers typically fall into 2 main categories:
Injuries to the perineal area
Perineal tears and episiotomy: more than 8 in 10 women who give birth vaginally experience ‘perineal trauma’ (a tear or surgical cut to the area between the vagina and anus).
Nerve damage: occasionally, nerves in the perineal area can get damaged during childbirth, which can lead to a painful condition called pudendal neuralgia.
Haemorrhoids (piles): these are raised veins around the anus that you might feel as lumps. While they can be painful or itchy, they are usually not serious.
Injuries to the pelvic floor
Muscle damage: the ‘pelvic floor muscles’ is a group of muscles inside the pelvis that helps hold the uterus, bladder and bowel in place. In up to half of all women who give birth vaginally, there are permanent changes to the pelvic floor due to over-stretching or tearing (avulsion).
Pelvic organ prolapse: if the pelvic muscles are damaged or weakened, the organs inside the pelvis can drop down towards the vagina, causing bladder and bowel problems.
While these birth injuries are physical, many mothers can experience emotional or psychological distress — before, during or after the birth. This is known as birth trauma. There are ways to decrease your risk of birth trauma, and both treatment and support are available
What causes birth injury?
If you suffer a birth injury, the cause was most likely something out of your control.
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