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Birth injury is damage that occurs as a result of physical pressure during the birthing process, usually during transit through the birth canal. Birth injuries are most commonly due to the natural forces of labor and delivery. In the past, when risks of Caesarean delivery were high, doctors did difficult deliveries by pulling the fetus out using forceps (a surgical instrument with rounded edges that fit around the fetus's head). However, bringing the fetus down from high in the birth canal with forceps had a high risk of causing birth injury. Today, forceps are used only in the final stages of delivery and rarely cause injury. Overall, the rate of birth injuries is much lower now than in previous decades because of improved prenatal assessment with ultrasonography, the limited use of forceps, and because doctors often do Caesarean delivery if they foresee an increased risk of birth injury (Stavis, 2019).
Despite medical advancements, childbirth is a major cause of post-traumatic stress disorder – and yet nobody talks about it. Leah McLaren tells the harrowing story of the arrival of her second child – and her fight for treatment and support (McLaren, 2017).
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