A broken collarbone at birth is an unavoidable event, meaning there's nothing you did or didn't do to cause it. As a parent, it can be very disturbing to hear that your baby has a broken bone and will not be treated for it. Here are some signs your baby may have a broken collarbone and tips for how to care for your baby if they DO have a broken collarbone at birth.
Babies who have broken their collarbone may show the following symptoms:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Difficulty breastfeeding on a specific side
- Little or no movement of the arm that is on the same side as the broken collarbone
- Crying or fussiness when the shoulder or arm is moved due to pain
- The broken area of the clavicle may move when pressed on, and may feel like it is "crunching."
- A bump may be seen or felt on the clavicle. This is called a fracture callus and is a sign that the fracture is healing
A broken collarbone may make eating, holding, and dressing your baby more difficult. The bone can take anywhere from 10 to 14 days after birth to begin healing (1 to 2 months to heal completely) during which time your baby will begin moving their arm more.
Some tips for taking care of your baby during this time:
- Always handle your baby gently
- Avoid putting pressure on the broken collarbone when holding your baby
- Use the Infant Brace to immobilize your baby's arm on the same side as the break to help manage pain
- Use clothing that buttons or snaps in the front so the arm moves as little as possible while dressing
- When dressing your baby, put the arm which is on the same side as the broken collarbone into the clothing first; when undressing, take the arm out last to avoid moving the broken bone as much as possible
- Lay your baby on their back to sleep
- When doing tummy time, lay your baby on your tummy rather than the floor
- Use medication as directed by your physician
- When breastfeeding, avoid positions that seem to cause your baby pain or that put direct pressure on the broken collarbone or the arm on the same side – experiment with different holds like the laid back hold
- If you are using the Infant Brace or another restrictive device, remember to monitor your baby's temperature and blood flow during use