Types of Head Injuries Associated With Vacuum Assisted Births | Scott Goodwin Law

Types of Head Injuries Associated With Vacuum Assisted Births

by / Monday, 15 August 2022 / Published in Birth Trauma
A mother in a hospital gown kisses the head of a newborn baby.

Over the years, vacuum assisted births have become increasingly less common as c-sections became a more widely used option. It’s now estimated that vacuum assisted births account for about 2.5% of non-caesarean births. However, they can be an option if labor has stalled out in the second stage, if there are concerns around the baby’s heart rate, or if the mother is too exhausted to continue pushing. 

Avoiding a c-section can be appealing, but it’s important to understand that vacuum assisted births do have some risks. Given that vacuum extractors come in contact with the baby’s head, there is a chance for injuries to the head and skull. In some cases, these injuries are minor, quickly clearing up on their own without the need for additional treatment. However, some types of injuries can be more severe and require prompt medical attention.  

Chignon & Swelling

Due to the pressure vacuum extractors put on the child’s head, you may see some type of swelling on the head after delivery, often in a way that gives the head a conical appearance or with swelling on one side of the head. This is known as chignon, and while it is alarming to see this type of swelling, it typically clears up within a couple of days after birth. However, many newer vacuum extractors have suction cups designed to reduce the likelihood of chignon occurring. 

Cephalohematoma, Subgaleal Hematoma & Intracranial Hemorrhage

In some cases, a vacuum extractor might cause some type of bleeding in the scalp area. Cephalohematoma occurs when blood collects under the scalp, causing a bump to form. You might be startled to see a bump on your baby’s head, but the good news is that cephalohematoma is generally harmless and should clear up on its own within weeks or months without medical treatment.

On the other hand, subgaleal hematoma is more concerning. Subgaleal hematoma occurs when blood collects between connective tissue and the membrane covering the skull due to injury to veins in the area. This condition is more serious than cephalohematoma and can potentially be life-threatening if not treated with blood transfusions or, in severe cases, surgical intervention.

Intracranial hemorrhage, also known as a brain bleed, is another injury that can occur as a result of damage to veins. Brain bleeds can range in severity with less severe cases having little risk of long-term effects and more severe cases requiring surgical intervention to prevent damage to brain tissue. 

Skull Fractures

The skull of a newborn baby is different from the skull of a fully grown adult. Newborns have skulls that are softer and more susceptible to injury. If a vacuum extractor causes a skull fracture, surgery may be needed if the skull fracture is severe.


While jaundice isn’t a type of head injury, bruising on the head and scalp can increase the risk of the baby developing jaundice. In most cases, bruising around the time of birth is harmless, but newborns have livers that may not be capable of handling the bilirubin that is produced as a result of the bruises healing, which can result in jaundice. Jaundice is common in newborns and typically doesn’t result in any negative long-term health effects, but it can turn into a serious problem if not treated promptly.

Contact a Michigan Birth Trauma Lawyer

Very often, cases of birth injuries could have been prevented. If your child was injured around the time of birth, it’s important to contact a birth trauma lawyer as soon as possible. Even if your child is a few years old and you’re just starting to see signs that birth trauma may have occurred, you may still have legal options. At Goodwin & Scieszka, we’re experienced in helping the victims of birth trauma in the state of Michigan. Contact us today to find out how we can help.