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Head injuries that can happen during birth

There are a wide variety of injuries that can happen during the birthing process. Some of the most common relate to the head. These injuries might happen, for example, as the baby tries to squeeze through the birth canal. It’s often the head that becomes trapped, and injuries can result.

Here are the most frequent injuries that happen to a baby’s head during birth:

Head molding: This is not actually an injury but it’s worth mentioning. It’s normal for the baby’s head to change shape during birth. When the head comes out first, it can elongate through the birth canal — and this is perfectly normal. Although many mothers become concerned about head molding, the head will come back into a normal shape within several days.

Scalp swelling and bruising: These injuries are not too serious and can happen during birth. They usually heal after several days.

Scalp scratches: These can happen when doctors use vacuum extractors or forceps that attach to the scalp during a difficult delivery.

Bleeding around the skull bones: During a difficult birth, bleeding could result in the accumulation of blood above or under the covering around the skull bones.

Cephalhematoma: This is another type of blood accumulation that happens under the periosteum. This kind of injury typically disappears on its own, but sometimes requires treatment.

Subgaleal hemorrhage: This injury involves a more severe type of bleeding that isn’t confined to one place like in a cephalhematoma. It’s usually the result of forceps and vacuum extractors. This can be a serious medical problem that sometimes requires blood transfusions.

Skull fractures: Minor skull fractures can happen both before and during birth. Use of forceps and vacuum pumps can also cause fractures in a baby’s skull. In most cases, these injuries heal on their own.

The majority of the above baby head and skull injuries are minor and heal within a short time after birth. However, complications sometimes develop that require more intensive medical care and can even threaten the baby’s life. If your baby was seriously hurt because of a birth injury, you might want to investigate whether the circumstances warrant the pursuit of a birth injury claim.