How Can I Prevent Erb’s Palsy?

461798-babyErb’s Palsy is a birth injury caused by excessive force being applied to the baby’s head during delivery.  This can happen if the baby gets stuck in the birth canal, and the doctor needs to pull the child out.  This is a common injury that can happen if the baby is too large to easily fir through the birth canal.    While Erb’s Palsy is common, it is preventable.
Erb’s Palsy can happen in any family, with any doctor.     Here are some things to look out for to help prevent ERb’s Palsy.

  • Expectant mothers with Diabetes should closely monitor their blood sugar levels.  High blood sugar levels can “over nourish” the baby and make it gain weight faster than normal. The larger the baby, the more likely it is to get stuck in the birth canal.
  • Mother’s who previously delivered a child with shoulder dystocia are more likely to have another difficult birth that could result in Erb’s Palsy.
  • Labor Inducing with drugs such as Cervadil, Pitocin, or Cytotec may also increase your child’s risk for Erb’s Palsy.
  • Mothers with smaller or unusual shaped pelvises or pelvic openings may be more likely to have a difficult delivery, even if the child is normal sized.
  • Prolonged labors can often lead to a difficult delivery.
  • Precipitous deliveries
  • Children that are in a breech position or oddly positioned in the birth canal are more likely to suffer Erb’s Palsy, or another birth related injury, as it would  be more difficult for the doctor to get the baby out of the birth canal safely.

The best way to avoid a birth-related injury such as Erb’s Palsy may be to opt for a planned  cesarean section (C-section).  However, this procedure is not without its risks.  You should talk with your doctor to discuss the pros and cons of natural birth vs. c-section and make an informed decision.    Even if you opt for a natural delivery, it may be a good idea to have a backup plan for a c-section in place, in case labor becomes difficult.    Understanding all of the risks and maintaining good communications with your doctor will help you to have a safe delivery and a healthy baby.

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