Why Would a Baby Be Born With Bruising on Its Face?

Although seeing bruises on your brand new baby can be distressing, it is not always cause for alarm. In some cases the bruising is mild, but in other cases it is much more serious. One young mother in Essex, England was so distraught by the severity of her newborn’s bruises that she has vowed to never have another child because of the trauma.

In the United States, approximately six to eight out of every 1,000 live births will result in some kind of injury to the newborn. These injuries can be caused by the normal process of passing through the birth canal or by issues with the mother. Other birth injuries are caused by medical mistakes.

When birth goes seriously wrong due to a doctor or nurse’s mistake, it can cause suffering and anguish for the baby and the parents. In these cases, parents often end up needing to contact a personal injury lawyer. (Visit to learn more about the process of filing a lawsuit.) However, in many cases, the bruising will go away on its own.

This guide to facial bruising in newborns caused during the birth process will explain the different types of bruises, their causes, and what you can expect if your infant is affected.

Types of Bruises

Bruises (also called contusions) typically happen when the blood vessels under your skin bleed. Because the skin isn’t broken, the blood pools under the skin, changing its color. The colors of a bruise and its size will vary depending on the type of injury.

The three types of bruises include:

  • Subcutaneous bruises that happen under the skin
  • Intramuscular bruises that happen in the muscles
  • Periosteal bruises that happen on the bones

Not all bruises are painful, and seeing bruising on your baby is not necessarily a cause for alarm.

There are many reasons your baby may have experienced an injury like bruising during birth. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the experienced birth injury attorneys at Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard to help ensure you receive the support and compensation you deserve.

Birth Injuries and Bruising

In any birth, the fetus goes through a certain amount of trauma due to being squeezed through the mother’s pelvis. Most will not end up with any physical damage. Some circumstances that make bruising or other injuries more likely include:

  • Premature birth
  • A large newborn
  • The size of the mother’s pelvis
  • Breech birth
  • Prolonged labor
  • Medical mistakes

When a birth is difficult, it is up to trained medical professionals to make sure the newborn is delivered safely. Sometimes doctors and nurses must intervene quickly if the mother or baby are in distress.

While some injuries to a newborn are unavoidable, others are caused by negligence on the part of the medical practitioner. The following are some of the most common causes of bruises on a newborn at birth.

Forceps Delivery

The use of forceps during labor is often a last resort before a c-section. If labor isn’t progressing as it should, the physician may use forceps to extract the newborn. During a forceps delivery, a healthcare provider uses this instrument, which resembles salad tongs, to grab the baby’s head and help guide it out of the birth canal.

Forceps can save a newborn’s life, but they can also cause bruising and other injuries. This bruising typically appears on the baby’s face or head, and they usually go away on their own without any treatment.

Vacuum Extraction

When labor has failed to progress during the second stage, some doctors use vacuum extraction (also known as ventouse) to deliver the infant. This involves the use of a suction cup device on the fetus’s head, which then allows medical personnel to pull the newborn out.

Vacuum extraction can cause bruising to a baby’s scalp. It has also been known to cause lacerations. The bruising will go away on its own, but any lacerations may require medical treatment.

When a newborn is bruised by the use of forceps or vacuum extraction, the following conditions can be the result.


Cephalohematomas can happen when a birth injury causes blood to accumulate beneath the baby’s skull. You will most likely notice a cephalohematoma hours after birth if a lump has appeared on your newborn’s head.

A cephalohematoma may be small, in which case it will most likely disappear quickly. In cases where cephalohematomas are large, it can take as many as three months to heal. In some cases, it will lead to newborn jaundice.

Caput Succedaneum

If you notice the part of your newborn’s scalp that emerged first is swollen, you may be looking at caput succedaneum. It is caused by pressure on the baby’s head, and it can take place during a difficult labor. Vacuum extraction can cause caput succedaneum.

This condition is more likely to happen after your water has broken. Once this happens, the infant’s skull will no longer be cushioned by the fluid, leaving their scalp vulnerable. This type of injury will typically go away on its own after a few days, but it can also lead to jaundice.

What to Do if Your Newborn Has Bruising

It is common for newborns to have a variety of conditions that may result in them temporarily not looking the way you may have expected. This can include small blood spots on their eyes, oddly shaped heads, and swelling. This is perfectly normal, and after a few days you can expect most of these to disappear.

This is also the case for most newborns who experience bruising. Most bruising is the result of the stresses put on the infant during birth. However, medical errors may also be behind the bruising. Sometimes healthcare professionals can make mistakes or use poor judgement that causes the bruising.

If your newborn’s bruising is not serious, there is nothing you need to do except wait for the situation to resolve on its own. If the doctor has suggested your baby receive follow-up treatment to keep an eye on the bruising, be sure to show up to all appointments. Keep records of everything that happens, from test results to any prescriptions.

If you believe your baby’s bruising was the result of a medical mistake, you may also want to contact an attorney. A lawyer can review your case and tell you more about your options. A settlement with the at-fault provider or facility can help you pay for the care your baby needs.