It is about to happen; the magical moment is filled with emotions of all sorts. The baby is coming whether we are fully emotionally ready or not. We have already sifted through the many different possible complications that could happen. Naturally, we worry about our babies being ready to come out into this very loud and chaotic world. We reflect and hope that we did our best to take care of our lil’ nuggets while they were in our safe and warm wombs.
Everything seems to be going as planned. The husband is frantically rushing home from work and meeting us at the hospital. Parents and in-laws have been notified. All seems to be happening according to the plan.
We want to make sure we are prepared for anything that could possibly happen. These 15 dangerous side effects and situations can happen in the delivery room. Some are scary and some are more common than others. Even with our best intentions and doing all of the right things, we sometimes fall victim to scary things in the delivery room. Doctors do not always take the time to tell us that these scenarios can sometimes happen. Sure, they don’t want us to worry or make a fuss over a statistically small potential of mishap or tragedy. We find that it is much better to know that there may be some complications. This better helps us to navigate our fears and know the lay of the land we are about to enter.
14 Shoulder Dystocia
There is tremendous physical stress on the baby and mother during the birthing process. Shoulder dystocia can occur when the baby’s shoulders get stuck in place at the mom’s pelvic bone once the baby’s head passes through the birth canal.
This can lead to many challenges as the baby needing to be manipulated in order to successfully continue to pass through the birth canal.
When this occurs, it can mean a very difficult and even more traumatic birth for both mom and baby. Larger babies are generally more at risk for suffering from this type of birth complication. Also, moms who have had a history of gestational diabetes are also at an increased risk for having a baby suffer from shoulder dystocia.
13 Epidural Issues
Hey, some moms want the epidural. Sometimes, however, it is too late. She may be too far along in the process of giving birth that she isn't even able to get one. Since an epidural is anesthesia and childbirth is painful, we can only imagine how horrific this prospect of not getting one may be for some. In addition, there are many side effects and potential problems that go along with getting an epidural, which ultimately helps to numb the area to aid in pain relief during childbirth.
One of the scary side effects is the needle can go in too far and cause spinal fluid to leak out, ultimately resulting in severe headaches. Another side effect is that the epidural can cause numbness and tingling in the lower extremities and this can result in urination issues. Furthermore, the epidural can cause permanent nerve damage that results in lifelong back pain for the mother, as well as hip displacement and even death.
12 Erb’s Palsy Is As Real As It Sounds
Erb’s Palsy is another little-known side effect that can happen from giving birth. It is essentially an injury that occurs during birth which can usually happen during shoulder dystocia. During the time when an infant is stuck and experiencing shoulder dystocia, he becomes injured when his nerves are compressed in his upper arm. Ultimately, this can cause many long-term effects for the baby and also cause loss of feeling and tingling in the baby’s upper extremities.
Babies born breech or working to come through the birth canal in an awkward position are two more common ways for an infant to develop Erb’s Palsy.
Erb’s Palsy can be treated sometimes through physical and occupational therapy and surgery can also be an option for treatment depending upon severity and complexity of the condition. While breech birth is absolutely normal and safe, it is safest when the provider tending to mom is experienced with it.
11 Tailbones Can Break
Sometimes our tailbones break, fracture or become severely bruised. This can happen due to the physical pressure of childbirth and, although it is not overly common during childbirth, it is a risk for sure. Moms are more at risk for this fracture if the baby is exceptionally large or in a position that is not necessarily normal. This is yet another reason that moms should be birthing in upright positions rather than on their backs in a bed.
Thinking about the pounds of pressure that we put on our backs and pelvic areas, it is not surprising that this can be a side effect in the delivery room. Some women who fall victim to a broken tailbone can actually hear a pop or break when it happens. As if we aren’t experiencing enough pain and discomfort, this situation can complicate the whole delivery room experience.
10 The Umbilical Cord Prolapse Scenario
Although very rare, sometimes our baby’s umbilical cord prolapses–essentially drops–through the cervix before our baby makes his first guest appearance in the world. When this happens, the risk is that the cord becomes tangled up in our little guy. The cord can end up strangling our baby as we push to try and give birth.
This generally happens when the baby is getting ready to enter the birth canal and right after mom’s water breaks.
In addition to getting tangled up, one of the other complications of this emergency is that the umbilical cord becomes compressed. This complication can lead to the oxygen and blood supply being cut off between mom and baby. Even though this is rare, it can happen and the chances increase if we are having multiples!
9 Meconium Aspiration Syndrome
Well, this just sounds scary. This can be common, but also is not necessarily a fatal situation for our newborns. When our baby’s first bowel movement–also known as meconium–takes place while he is still inside us and it combines with the amniotic fluid, our baby is at risk for aspirating–or inhaling–this dangerous mixture.
This can cause a plethora of complications including lung issues, airway obstruction and infection. Meconium Aspiration Syndrome often happens when the fetus is in distress and our baby gasps for one reason or another as a result of this distress. This gasp for air and oxygen is what can cause the aspiration of meconium and potential relative complications.
8 Emergency Scenario For All
Sometimes in the delivery room, everything seems to be going as planned. The prep has gone smoothly and now we are about to give birth to our new little bundle. Sometimes, an emergency can come up. Perhaps the umbilical cord prolapses or we have been pushing so long and our infant becomes stuck. Sometimes our baby is breech.
When an unplanned, emergency C-section is about to happen, we are already in a bit of distress.
There are already risk factors that caused us to now have to stop all planned natural birthing techniques. We are now going under the knife. An emergency C-section is so frightening to many of us, but the alternative is even more frightening. We have to remember that we are better off having this invasive procedure than risking what may happen without one.
7 Low Heart Rate
The doctors are constantly checking how our baby is doing during the birthing process. When our little guy is delivered and his heart rate plummets, it is a condition called fetal bradycardia. This can happen as a result of distress during the birthing process. It is scary as our baby fights for oxygen.
When our baby is born with a low heart rate, the chances of him fighting through are pretty positive. This is especially true since doctors are constantly monitoring our baby’s heart rate through the entire process as the act of giving birth can be distressing on a baby’s tiny little body. If there are additional complications or risk factors, this can add to the incidence of our baby developing fetal bradycardia.
6 Snip, Snip... Ick!
Here is a not-so-fun and exceptionally super graphic visual. Sometimes our doctors make the call to perform an episiotomy. Ultimately, this happens when our baby is allegedly at risk for tearing up too much tissue while entering the world through vaginal birth. As a result, the doctor may choose to cut an area down there and ultimately widen it to allow the baby to exit and make his debut into the world.
The problem with this line of thinking is that it is very outdated.
Tearing produces better birth and postpartum outcomes than episiotomies do. Repeated studies now show that tearing naturally is actually much better for both mom and baby.
5 When There Are Defects
Sometimes there are toxins or environmental factors that may have caused a problem and resulted in a particular birth defect. This can be seen when a mom has been using alcohol or illegal substances during pregnancy, even prescription medications as prescribed. Other birth defects are unable to be predicted and, ultimately, it can be dangerous and shocking to give birth to an infant with an unexpected defect.
Many defects occur as a result of the MTHFR gene mutation that an estimated 40 to 60 percent of the population now has. This hereditary mutation makes it so that mom cannot properly absorb folic acid. In turn, her B vitamins are depleted and this leads to midline defects in baby—and often even miscarriage. These women need to consume only methylated folate or folinic acid and avoid folic acid entirely in supplements and food. The problem is the burden of knowing that you have this mutation in you. It is not a part of routine prenatal testing. Most mothers find out after a defect or injury to baby has occurred.
4 Placental Pieces
During the stress of childbirth, and sometimes caused by contractions, the placenta can separate from the inner wall of the uterus causing a tear or completely obstructing oxygen. This causes the baby to lose its source of oxygen from us and can be very dangerous.
A history of C-sections can sometimes increase the risk of this happening as can a previous birth to multiples.
This is also more common in a mother over the age of 40 or one who suffered from hypertension during pregnancy. If placental abruption occurs, it is of vital importance to proceed with an emergency C-section for the safety of both mom and baby. Some signs of a placental abruption are extreme abdominal pain, low blood pressure and fetal distress during labor.
Amniotic fluid embolism is a severe and dangerous complication that can sometimes happen during the act of giving birth. It can be dangerous to both the baby and the mom as amniotic fluid makes its way into the mother’s bloodstream and circulatory system. This can cause heart failure, cardiac arrest, seizures, as well as many other complications to both parties.
The frightening part of this is that it can be unpredictable and unpreventable. Even scarier is the fact that this can be so fatal and happen so quickly. One thing to note, however, is that many mothers have some amniotic fluid and debris enter their bloodstream and have no complications at all. The good news is that this is a relatively rare situation.
3 PROM And No One's Dancing
Premature rupture of membranes—also known as the breaking of the amniotic fluid before baby is term—can be dangerous to both mom and baby. Since amniotic fluid is there to protect the baby, if it ruptures too early before giving birth, it can increase the risk of bacteria getting to the baby. That said, the risk of infection in that 24-hour window hospitals give is mainly due to the frequent cervical checks they push. A mom who opts out of these checks can safely stay at home and labor for several days with broken waters, but should be seen if baby's movements decrease or there is meconium staining in the water.
The protection that the amniotic fluid provides to the baby inside the womb is decreased, making the baby and mom both quite vulnerable
to life-threatening infections and complications if there is bacteria or another risk factor like GBS already present.
Since most women experiencing this will feel a gush of fluid and will soon give birth, it is not as dangerous as some of the others listed; however, if labor does not begin within 24-72 hours, the mother may want to employ other measures to get things going in order to prevent any potential risks to the baby.
2 Problematic Preeclampsia
Preeclampsia is a condition that happens only in pregnancy and symptoms can include retention of fluid, elevated blood pressure and sudden weight gain. It is also indicated when a particular protein is found in the urine. Additional side effects to this condition include blurred vision, severe headaches and upper right abdominal pain.
If a woman develops preeclampsia late enough in her pregnancy, she may be able to be induced. Preeclampsia occurs in a very small percentage of pregnancies. The symptoms of preeclampsia can be treated if the baby is not yet developed enough to give birth. Once a woman gives birth, her preeclampsia is cured. Although this is not exactly a side effect of giving birth, the act of giving birth is a side effect to cure preeclampsia.
1 Postpartum Hemorrhage
Another dangerous side effect that can happen in the delivery room is postpartum hemorrhage. This can happen from delivery all the way up to 12 weeks postpartum, although that is rare. Generally, it can happen within a day or so after delivery and ultimately is when a woman experiences a giant and excessive loss of blood as a result of the pregnancy.
Luckily, doctors are well-equipped to deal with this issue
and ultimately their goal is to try to help the blood clot better by stimulating the uterus. Other treatments include oxytocin (even breastfeeding can help as it releases oxytocin) and possibly surgery. The important thing about postpartum hemorrhaging is that the doctors are more likely to be able to treat it effectively if it is caught quicker. Some risk factors include obesity and having had multiples.