What You Should Know about Vacuum Extraction Birth Injuries

What You Should Know about Vacuum Extraction Birth Injuries

by / Wednesday, 07 November 2018 / Published in Birth Trauma, Medical Malpractice
Woman concernedly looking out the window holding a baby

Giving birth is never easy, but sometimes, the baby needs some extra help making its way into the world. Every delivery is unique and there are many different reasons why intervention may be needed to deliver the baby as quickly as possible. In some cases, labor stalls out or the mother becomes too exhausted to continue pushing. Other times, the child shows signs of being in distress or the mother has a health condition which makes pushing for an extended amount of time risky. When these sorts of things happen, one option doctors may consider, aside from a C-section, is a vacuum extraction birth.

Assisted deliveries involving vacuum extractors or forceps account for about 3% of all births in the United States. In a vacuum-assisted delivery, a cup is applied to the baby’s head while a pump connected to the cup applies suction, which helps the doctor guide the baby out. When used correctly, vacuum extractors and forceps can be a safe way to help a child come into the world. But like any other medical procedure, there is a risk of injuries if a mistake is made or the tool is used incorrectly.

Some bruising is common after a vacuum-assisted delivery and will generally go away on its own, but some of the other injuries it can cause are more serious. An improperly used vacuum extractor can cause bleeding in the brain, skull fractures, retinal hemorrhages, and brain damage. Vacuum extraction can also have an increased risk of shoulder dystocia, which can potentially lead to fractured collarbones and brachial plexus injuries.

There are also times when a vacuum-assisted delivery should be avoided. Vacuum-assisted births aren’t recommended if:

  • The child is younger than 34 weeks gestation

  • The position of the baby’s head cannot be clearly determined

  • The child might be too large for the mother’s pelvis

  • The mother isn’t fully dilated

  • The baby needs to be repositioned

  • The head isn’t far enough into the birth canal

If you are looking for a doctor to help with your birth and would like to avoid having a C-section if possible, ask the doctors you’re considering how much experience they have using birth-assisting tools like vacuum extractors and forceps. If complications arise during your delivery and intervention is needed, having a doctor who is experienced in using birth-assisting tools will reduce the risk of injuries being caused by those tools.

Nobody ever wants to see their child injured and the tragic reality of birth injuries is that in many cases, they’re preventable. If you had a vacuum-assisted birth and your child was injured around the time of birth, don’t hesitate to call a birth trauma lawyer. Some birth injuries aren’t immediately noticeable, so even if your child is a few years old and you’re beginning to suspect they may have been injured at birth, contacting a birth trauma lawyer can still be helpful. Birth injury cases can be complex and at Goodwin & Scieszka, we have experienced lawyers who will be able to answer your questions. Contact us to start learning about your options.