The Risks of Birth Assisting Tools During Delivery

The Risks of Birth Assisting Tools During Delivery

by / Friday, 08 July 2022 / Published in Birth Trauma
Crying baby laying on its back.

When complications occur during delivery, it’s important for appropriate actions to be taken quickly to prevent harm to the baby and the mother. In some cases, this means ordering an emergency cesarean. But, in some cases, doctors may use birth assisting tools like forceps and vacuum extractors to help keep delivery moving along and bring the baby into the world as soon as possible. Forceps and vacuum extraction are options that have become increasingly less common over time. According to UT Southwestern, about 3% of all births between 2016 and 2019 were delivered with the assistance of forceps or vacuum extraction. 

When Should Birth Assisting Tools be Used?

Typically, birth assisting tools may be recommended for use if there are signs that the baby is in distress, if the second stage of labor has become prolonged, if the mother has become too exhausted to push anymore, or if the mother is unable to push for a long time because of another medical condition. 

If one of these situations occurs, a c-section is another option that may be recommended. And, in some cases, a cesarean may be the safer of the two options. A c-section may be the safer option if the mother’s pelvis is too small or the baby is too large for easy natural delivery, if the baby isn’t far enough into the birth canal, if the mother is less than 34 weeks pregnant, or if the baby has a condition that can result in fragile bones or bleeding disorders. But since cesareans are a surgical procedure, there are risks involved with that option as well and it’s very important for all risks and benefits to be carefully considered before making a decision. 

Birth Assisting Tool Injuries

Birth assisting tools can be safe when used correctly. However, since they’re now less commonly used in delivery rooms, they also tend to be options that many medical professionals aren’t experienced in using or fully trained on how to use correctly. When forceps and vacuums are used incorrectly, they can potentially injure both the mother and the baby. 

In the case of forceps, injuries to the baby can include:

  • Skull fractures
  • Intracranial hemorrhage and other brain injuries
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Hematoma
  • Nerve damage
  • Facial injuries
  • Arm and shoulder injuries
  • Eye injuries

With vacuum extractions, possible injuries include: 

  • Erb’s palsy
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Skull fractures
  • Subgaleal hematoma
  • Cephalohematoma
  • Brachial plexus injuries

Contact a Michigan Birth Injury Lawyer

If your child was injured after birth assisting tools were used during delivery, don’t hesitate to contact a birth trauma lawyer. Very often, birth injuries could have been prevented and it’s important to speak to a lawyer to learn about what legal options you have. At Goodwin & Scieszka, you’ll be able to speak to a Michigan-based lawyer experienced in helping the victims of birth trauma and their families get the justice they deserve. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.

Image: Anastasiia Stiahailo / iStock