Research has shown that babies delivered with forceps or vacuum extraction are 80 percent more susceptible to injuries and death than those delivered by cesarean section. The study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, included data from more than 187,000 births in Canada between 2003 and 2013. It found that mothers were three to five times more likely to suffer trauma in a forceps or vacuum delivery. 19 percent of the mothers suffering from obstetric tearing described as severe. Vacuum extraction had a 12 percent chance of tearing, and 20 percent of mothers who had a combination of both forceps and vacuum extraction delivery suffered from obstetric tearing. These results made it clear that mothers are at risk when undergoing vacuum delivery. Baby injuries increase with this delivery method too.
If you or your baby suffered unnecessary injuries as a result of vacuum or forceps delivery complications, the compassionate attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP may be able to help you get compensation. We have extensive experience representing clients in medical negligence litigation. Call us today for a free case evaluation.
When Are Forceps or Vacuum Extraction Used?
Forceps and vacuum extraction are used when the baby suffers distress during delivery. Both methods are aimed at helping the baby through the birth canal when the baby is stuck or in danger.
Vacuum extraction uses suction to get the baby out of the mother’s birth canal faster. It has become a preferred method due to the belief that it is safer than the use of forceps. A baby delivered with forceps has a higher risk of nerve damage to the baby’s face. However, vacuum extraction is not always completely safe, either; bleeding inside the baby’s head or between the skull and scalp may occur in a vacuum delivery. A baby delivered in this way may have cerebral palsy, brain damage, or developmental problems.
Birth injuries throughout the United States affect about seven out of every 1,000 children. The impact of injuries suffered at birth can be devastating and irreparable. Serious injuries may include cerebral palsy, internal bleeding, brain injury due to hypoxia (deficiency of oxygen), spinal cord damage, bone fractures, and umbilical cord strangulation.
Forceps Delivery and Potential Risks
Forceps delivery is a type of assisted vaginal delivery where a healthcare provider applies an instrument shaped like a pair of large spoons or tongs to the baby’s head to assist guiding the baby out of the birth canal. This is normally done during a contraction while the mother pushes. A forceps delivery should only be done in a birthing center or hospital where a C-section (cesarean) can be performed if necessary. Possible forceps delivery complications for the mother include: lower genital tract tears and wounds; difficulty urinating or emptying the bladder; short term or long-term urinary or fecal incontinence; or anemia (a condition in which there are not enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to the tissues, due to blood loss during delivery).
Additional potential injuries may be to the bladder or urethra; uterine rupture, weakening of the muscles and ligaments supporting the pelvic organs, causing pelvic organs to drop lower in the pelvis (pelvic organ prolapse).
Although most of these risks are associated with vaginal deliveries as well, they are more likely with a forceps delivery, notes the Mayo Clinic. When doctors and nurses use forceps, delivery injuries may ensue even when things are done properly.
There may also be an episiotomy performed – an incision in the tissue between the vagina and anus, that can help ease the delivery of the baby. This procedure has a risk of postpartum bleeding and infection whether or not a medical provider uses forceps. Baby delivery accompanied by an episiotomy must be coupled with special care for the mother’s incision.
Risks To The Baby – Forceps Delivery
There are many risk factors involved with delivery by forceps. Baby injuries may include: minor facial injury due to the pressure of the forceps, temporary weakness in facial muscles (facial palsy), minor external eye trauma, skull fracture, bleeding within the skull, and seizures. Minor marks on the baby’s face after a forceps delivery are normal and temporary. Serious infant injuries after this type of delivery are rare, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Vacuum Extraction Delivery
A vacuum extraction might be considered if the labor meets the criteria comparable to the forceps delivery guidelines. This is most often the case when the cervix is fully dilated, the membranes have ruptured, and the baby has descended into the birth canal headfirst, but the mother is not able to push out the baby. Vacuum birth in such cases may be recommended by the medical provider.
Risks to the Baby – Vacuum Extraction
Possible risks to the baby with a vacuum extraction are: scalp wounds; flat head syndrome; higher risk of getting the baby’s shoulder stuck after the head has been delivered, leading to an injury to the network of nerves that sends signals from the spine to the shoulder; arm and hand (brachial plexus); or a collarbone fracture; or skull fracture, bleeding within the skull. The Mayo Clinic adds that serious infant injuries after a vacuum extraction delivery are rare.
Legal Information Concerning Medical Negligence
If you or someone you know has been affected by medical negligence in a vacuum delivery or other case, you have the legal rights to pursue a case. Parker Waichman LLP offers free, no-obligation case evaluations. We urge you to contact us at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).