When it is finally time for the birth of a baby, parents are ready to hold their precious and perfect child in their arms. They should not have to worry about birth injuries suffered by their baby during the delivery. Sadly, though, medical staff does not always perform up to their expected level, which can result in injuries to a baby. Two such problems are caput succedaneum and cephalohematoma.
A caput succedaneum is swelling that occurs in the scalp of a newborn. This means that bruising occurs in the thin layer of tissue between the hair and the skull itself. This typically appears as a puffy spot on the baby's head, but it can even be so large as to cover the whole top portion of the skull, making the newborn's head look misshapen. A caput can also cause molding of the head.
While this problem can be caused from the pressure of the newborn's head against the vaginal wall during a normal, headfirst delivery, it can also be due to a vacuum extraction. Thankfully, this injury typically goes away on its own. However, it can later contribute to jaundice as the baby's body tries to process and rid itself of the excess blood in the bruise.
A caput's main difference from a cephalohematoma is that it can occur across the midline of the skull. Additionally, while the former is swelling of the scalp tissue, the litter occurs deeper towards the skull itself. There is a tough tissue that lines the outside of bones, called periosteum. A cephalohematoma is a collection of blood under this material.
Slightly similar to a caput, a cephalohematoma can result from a forceful delivery. As the baby's body is forced forwards either during a natural birth or a specialized extraction process, the scalp sticks to the interior of the birth canal. These results in the teasing of blood vessels connecting the periosteum to the scalp and skull. While a caput succedaneum typically disappears in a few days, a hematoma of the periosteum can last longer.
Although some babies can develop a caput while still in the womb, many others suffer from the injury during the delivery process. In most instances, bruising is unavoidable, but proper and responsible management of labor and delivery should reduce your baby's chances of having this problem. Additionally, cephalohematomas are most often caused by vacuum and forceps-assisted deliveries. While these two extraction methods may be necessary, proper care and use of the tools should help protect your baby from this injury.
You should be able to trust your doctors to help you through delivery in a careful, efficient, and safe manner. However, sometimes doctors fail in their responsibilities to us. If you or someone you know has had a baby that suffered from a caput succedaneum or cephalohematoma due to unsafe use of forceps or a vacuum, you should speak to an attorney regarding your options.