The Risks of Forceps Deliveries
Once a mother goes into labor, it’s very important that her birthing team helps make sure her labor keeps progressing as it should. Even with a healthy, low-risk pregnancy, the process of giving birth can be extremely difficult and traumatic for both the mother and the child and if labor becomes complicated or prolonged, the more likely it is for serious injuries to occur.
There are many circumstances in which a mother might need some extra help delivering her child. In some cases, the mother might have a health condition that could make it dangerous for her to spend too much time pushing. Or if labor has become too difficult and drawn out, a mother might be physically unable to push anymore. In any case, it’s extremely important that the medical professionals attending to the birth take appropriate steps to deliver the baby as quickly as possible so that it doesn’t go into distress.
When a mother isn’t able to deliver her child on her own, there are a few different ways doctors can intervene: they can perform a C-section or use birth-assisting tools like forceps or vacuum extractor. Each method has its own risks and benefits, and even if you’ve had a healthy, uncomplicated pregnancy, it’s important to understand the risks of each method just in case something goes wrong.
In the case of forceps deliveries, it’s essential that the doctors involved know how to use them correctly. Many times, forcep injuries are caused when the doctor uses too much force to guide the baby out. But in other cases, a doctor might fail to stop using forceps and order a C-section instead. Forceps can be safe when used correctly, but if they aren’t, they have the potential to cause a wide range of injuries to the child, ranging from bruising to nerve damage, brain damage, and injuries to the skull, eyes, and face. If a brain injury were to occur, the child might suffer from hemorrhages or permanent conditions like cerebral palsy, seizure disorders, or developmental delays. But the child isn’t the only one who could be harmed by improperly used forceps. Risks to the mother include lacerations, tears, incontinence, and bladder injuries.
There are also certain conditions which need to be met before forceps should be used. The mother must be fully dilated, the membranes must be ruptured and the baby’s head and body position need to be just right. Doctors need to have an accurate understanding of the baby’s size and position before they start using forceps. If there’s any uncertainty over either of those things, the doctor needs to take steps to find out.
While there are lots of conditions that need to be met before forceps should be used, there are also circumstances when they shouldn’t be used at all, such as if the baby is less than 34 weeks or if the baby’s head is too large to fit through the mother’s pelvis.
If you had an assisted birth that involved the use of forceps and believe that you or your child was injured as a result, contact a birth trauma lawyer as soon as possible. Birth injuries are a type of medical malpractice and can be very complicated. A lawyer will be able to listen to the details of your situation and help you figure out what legal steps you can take.