Birth injuries do not just happen to the child: they also happen to the entire family. While the child may be left with long-term physical, cognitive, and psychological effects of an injury, parents and siblings can also experience psychological pain and financial hardship that can last a lifetime.
The emotional and psychological consequences of a birth injury or traumatic birth experience can even make it difficult for a mother to care for her new child.
Emotional Toll on a Parent
A traumatic birth can lead to numerous psychological effects on a mother. One of the most common is postpartum depression, which affects up to 30% of women who have recently experienced a traumatic birth experience. When a child is injured during childbirth, some women may experience depression, anxiety, and a feeling of being out of control.
This can have long-term effects on the mother and the baby. It may damage relationships, reduce the lactation period, and interfere with bonding with the new baby. Some women even decide not to have more children after a traumatic birth.
Both parents may experience anxiety and depression after a child is diagnosed with a birth injury. Having a child who may require long-term medical care can also cause a marriage to suffer.
Psychological Impact on Siblings
Adults aren't the only ones who feel the impact of a birth injury. If the child has special needs as a result of the birth injury, siblings will likely feel the impact in several ways. They may be faced with greater responsibility at a younger age than their friends. This can lead to isolation as their peers may have trouble relating to their circumstances. Some siblings may also face teasing and bullying at school.
When a child has special needs, the parents often need to spend additional time with the child to provide the level of care they require. Siblings may deal with conflicting emotions, including guilt, anger, or even a sense of abandonment.
PTSD and Birth Injuries
One of the most overlooked and serious psychological impacts of a birth injury is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), an often unrecognized problem common in NICUs across the country. NICU parents often describe the guilt, uselessness, panic, and stress they experience when a child is born with a medical problem or suffers a serious birth injury. Many NICU parents are even screened for postpartum depression which occurs at a rate of 28-70% of NICU mothers, although recent research shows that these emotions may be more indicative of PTSD.
For some women, the psychological burden of a traumatic birth can lead to PTSD, which is separate from postpartum depression. PTSD can cause symptoms such as intrusive and painful memories, hypervigilance, nightmares, insomnia, flashbacks, and emotional distress.
PTSD can be the result of any traumatic experience but, in terms of childbirth, it is most likely to happen during labor and delivery, such as when a child suffers a birth injury, is born with a medical problem, or the mother feels forced into an invasive procedure.
Post-traumatic stress disorder can affect mothers and fathers after a traumatic birth experience. While mothers are most likely to experience these symptoms shortly after birth, fathers are at a higher risk after four months.
How a Birth Injury Lawyer Can Help
A serious birth injury is one of the most traumatic scenarios you can experience as a parent. You may be left with many questions, worries, and concerns for the future, including how you will provide care for your child and give them the best possible life they deserve. Of course, you are also affected by their injury and may be dealing with a significant psychological burden in addition to practical concerns.
The emotional toll of the birth injury on your family is just as much a part of a medical malpractice lawsuit as the injury your child has suffered. If you believe your child's injury was the result of medical provider negligence, an experienced birth injury lawyer can help you protect your legal rights and explore options to seek fair compensation for the injuries sustained by your child and your family. Compensation can be used to give your child the best possible quality of life and provide for their needs now and as they grow.
Contact The Haynes Firm to schedule a free consultation with a medical malpractice attorney in Johnson City to discuss your claim.