Giving birth can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Unfortunately, there are times it can turn into a traumatic event for both mother and baby. 

The journey from the womb through the birth canal and into the world takes a great toll on a newborn. There are numerous issues that can occur along the way, resulting in birth injuries such as cephalohematoma. 

Cephalohematoma is a condition in which blood begins to pool on the back of a baby’s head. Typically, it results from blood vessels being ruptured during the birth. However, because the pooling of blood is gradual, there may initially be no evidence of cephalohematoma. 

Over the course of several days, if a baby has cephalohematoma, he or she will develop a hard bulge on the back of the head. This bulge is congealed, hardened blood. 

The key to understanding what to do if your baby has cephalohematoma is to know what the causes and symptoms are. Being informed will help you determine whether or not you should consider legal action against your health care provider.

Causes of Cephalohematoma

It is important to understand that there are natural causes of cephalohematoma. A baby might suffer from the medical condition if:

  • There was a prolonged labor
  • If the baby presented abnormally 
  • If contractions were weak

If your baby has cephalohematoma because of any of these reasons, it is unlikely that legal action is necessary. However, there are also unnatural causes of cephalohematoma.

If a doctor or nurse used forceps or vacuum to aid in the extraction of the baby from the birth canal, the chances of cephalohematoma are greatly increased. This is because the pressure of the device can rupture blood vessels in the head, leading to bleeding between the scalp and the skull. While the use of these two methods does not automatically mean the medical professional was negligent, it is worth examining the possibility. 

If your doctor used such an extraction device unnecessarily or ineffectively, and the pressure from the device caused a severe case of cephalohematoma, you may want to consider legal action. Contact a qualified personal injury attorney who specializes in birth injury cases so they can begin investigating your case.

Symptoms of Cephalohematoma 

The good news about cephalohematoma is that the pressure from the blood build-up usually does not affect the brain or brain function. In many cases, the baby is sent home and the parents told to monitor the situation and inform their doctor if any of the following occur:

  • The baby becomes sleepier than normal
  • The baby’s cry changes or becomes more intense
  • The baby is uninterested in eating

In addition to these behavioral symptoms, a baby with cephalohematoma may also experience internal symptoms. These include:

  • An infection (evidenced by a fever)
  • Jaundice (characterized by a yellow-hued skin color)
  • Anemia

These medical conditions are even more serious than cephalohematoma and if your baby is suffering from any of them it is imperative that you contact your doctor right away. It is also worth noting that if your baby suffers from any of the above symptoms as the result of negligence on the part of your doctor, nurse, or midwife, you can seek damages.

What to Watch For

Because there are both natural and unnatural causes of cephalohematoma, medical professionals might try to blame nature for your child’s condition. Be alert to and take note of instances where your doctor is quick to dismiss responsibility for what happened during birth.

Unfortunately, most new parents are bewildered and know very little about what is a natural occurrence and what is not. By informing yourself, you can be prepared to protect your baby and yourself from accepting a medical condition that may have resulted from a doctor’s negligence.