Birth Complications

Complications during birth are more common than complications during a woman’s pregnancy. There are so many things that can go wrong during these last moments of expectancy. Learn about the different complications that arise at birth, what to expect if you encounter some of these complications, and what to expect from your health care provider. Unfortunately, due to reasons that are out of most of our hands, complications happen during this stressful time, it’s important you understand these situations before they happen.

  • Amniotic Band Syndrome >

    The term amniotic band syndrome (or amniotic band constriction) describes a congenital deformity caused by the entanglement of a fetus in a web of fibrous tissue strands extending from the lining of the amnion, the innermost layer of the amniotic sac in which the fetus grows into a baby. In some cases these strands of […]

  • Amniotic Fluid Embolism >

    Amniotic fluid embolism is an unpredictable, unpreventable and untreatable obstetric condition with a mortality rate of 80%. Learn more about this devastating condition that happens in approximately one out of every 21,000 pregnancies.

  • Birth Defects >

    Birth defects (or congenital disorders, as many people prefer to call them) come in many varieties. Some birth defects are serious, and result in lifelong difficulties for those who are born with them. Others are easily manageable, or even curable. Some birth defects are hereditary, running in families for generations, sometimes via recessive genes; others […]

  • Breech Birth >

    In approximately 96 percent of all births, the fetus assumes a head-down position around the 36th week of pregnancy, and the baby is born head first. In some cases, however, the fetus fails to assume this position, and when labor begins the baby is still in a feet-down or bottom-down position. This is called breech […]

  • Erb’s Palsy >

    Erb’s Palsy is usually caused by an injury suffered at birth during a vaginal delivery when the head and shoulders of a baby are pulled in opposite directions as he or she is delivered through the birth canal. This can cause a weakness in the upper arm and rotation of the lower arm, generally on one side of the body. Complications can include loss of function of the affected nerves, and paralysis of the arm or arm weakness.

  • Gestational Trophoblastic Disease >

    The term gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD) refers to certain types of tumors that can occur during pregnancy. These tumors begin in the cells that under normal circumstances would develop into the placenta (the organ that develops during pregnancy and provides the growing fetus with oxygen and nutrition), and they cause the placenta to develop abnormally.

  • Low Birth Weight >

    Sometimes babies are born with low birth weights, regardless if they’re born premature or full term. Find out the two main causes of this birth complication, as well as how to prevent and treat the problem.

  • Macrosomia >

    Macrosomia is a term used to describe a large newborn. Thankfully, this is not a life-threatening birth complication, however, many mothers suffer excessive tearing and recovery processes may be extended.

  • Neonatal Intensive Care Unit >

    While the overwhelming majority of pregnancies result in the birth of healthy babies without complications, childbirth is still an inherently risky process, and things can sometimes go wrong. Modern medicine has sharply reduced the rate of infant mortality in the developed world, but in some cases newborn babies need to be placed in a Neonatal […]

  • Postpartum Depression >

    Postpartum depression may or may not appear in women after giving birth. Learn about the symptoms and treatment options, plus much more.

  • PPROM and PROM (Premature Rupture of Membranes) >

    Before a baby is born, the water bag needs to break at some point. Maybe this happens at the very last second, in which case the doctor who is positioned to deliver the baby gets hit with a huge gush of water (as has happened to this author more than once!). Or more often the […]

  • Premature Birth >

    While exact figures are difficult to nail down, it is estimated that 15 million premature births occur worldwide each year. Premature birth (or preterm birth) is defined as any live birth that takes place prior to 37 weeks of gestation. In developed countries like the United States — where one out of every eight newborns […]

  • Umbilical Cord Abnormalities >

    Throughout pregnancy, the umbilical cord serves as the primary connection between mother and child. It provides the baby with oxygen and nourishment—it is, in a very literal sense, the baby’s lifeline. This means that if something goes wrong with the umbilical cord, it can sometimes become a medical emergency for which immediate medical attention must […]

  • Uterine Rupture >

    Uterine ruptures are very rare, yet they are a very serious birth complication that can be life-threatening to both mother and baby if not treated immediately. Find out what causes uterine ruptures, symptoms to watch for and who’s at risk.

[Page updated June 2014]