There’s no happier time than the arrival of a newborn baby in your life. However, emergencies can happen at any moment which turn these joyous moments into a nightmare. There are many complications associated with delivery and when the life of the mother or baby is in danger, doctors might rely on the use of forceps to help deliver the baby.
While forceps can be a lifesaving method of delivery, it can also put the baby at risk for several different injuries resulting in lifelong health issues. In rare instances, forceps delivery can cause nerve and brain injuries.
The use of forceps has declined drastically since the 90s due to the improvements made in Cesarean sections (C-sections), paired with the fact that more doctors are aware of the risks associated with the use of forceps during birth.
A study in 2017 found that delivery by forceps and vacuum extractions produced higher rates of infant and maternal physical trauma in comparison to C-sections.
These life-altering deliveries can push the parents to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital or doctor who delivered the baby, especially when wrongdoing or negligence is suspected. These lawsuits can help families recoup the finances lost due to medical bills and lost wages. A successful lawsuit can also hold the responsible parties accountable for the pain and suffering caused by the medical negligence.
What is a forceps delivery?
Forceps are instruments that are used to help the delivery of a baby when assistance is required. Forceps delivery is done during vaginal delivery where the forceps are used to grip onto the baby’s head to pull and guide the baby out of the birth canal.
Your doctor might consider using forceps in situations where the mother’s membranes have ruptured, her cervix is fully dilated and the baby has descended into the birth canal. There are many reasons forceps might be used during delivery, including:
- The baby’s heartbeat is abnormal
- Mother is pushing but labour is not progressing
- Mother has a medical condition like high blood pressure
- Mother can’t push the baby out due to medical complications
The Risks Associated with Forcep Deliveries
There are certain risks related to forceps deliveries to both the mother and baby that can cause severe trauma to them during delivery. The proper placement of the forceps is absolutely critical and any improper placement and pressure on the baby’s soft head can cause life-long injuries that might need extensive medical care into the future.
The improper use of forceps can cause many birth injuries, including the following for babies:
- Cerebral Palsy
- Skull fractures
- Bleeding within the skull
- Facial injuries lacerations and disfigurement
- Facial paralysis due to damaged nerves
- External eye trauma
- Traumatic brain injury
- Brachial Plexus Palsy
Mothers also have an increased risk of injuries, which include:
- Uterine rupture
- Tearing or pain in the perineum
- Lower genital tract tears
- Injuries to the bladder or urethra
- Uterine rupture
- Muscle and ligament weakening in the pelvic organs
When should forceps delivery be avoided?
In many of the same situations that might result in a forceps delivery, a C-section would also be a viable option. There are many important reasons a doctor will not choose to use forceps and instead perform a surgical procedure. For example, if the baby has a medical condition that affects the strength of its bones, forceps are likely to cause damage.
If the baby has not descended far enough into the birth canal, the use of forceps should also be dismissed. Plus, if the size of the mother’s pelvis makes delivery difficult, then a C-section can be chosen over pulling the baby out with forceps.
Serious Birth Injuries Due to Forceps Delivery
There is a risk of serious and permanent birth injury due to forceps delivery. Excessive pressure on the infant’s soft skull is all it takes to cause irreparable brain damage.
Cerebral palsy is one example of the type of permanent disability that can result from a forceps delivery. Improper pressure on the baby’s brain causes brain damage which is the underlying cause of cerebral palsy. The extent of the damage can lead to mild, moderate, or severe cerebral palsy.
Another common injury due to forceps delivery includes infant shoulder dystocia, which happens during delivery when the baby’s shoulders become stuck in the mother’s pelvic region. In these instances, the baby’s head is usually out of the birth canal and the delivery must be completed as quickly as possible before causing serious injury to the baby.
Forceps are used but the baby can suffer from broken bones, facial injuries, and brachial plexus palsy. Using forceps can be a difficult decision, but when there’s little time for safe delivery, it may be the right course to take.
When Obstetric Negligence Occurs
If a doctor mistakenly uses the forceps resulting in birth injury, they should be held accountable. Sometimes the use of forceps is the wrong decision and causes you or your child to suffer needlessly. If your doctor is aware that the use of forceps is risky but chooses to ignore or take this risk into account before using the forceps, they can be held liable for injuries you or your infant suffered as a result.
Birth injuries are serious and can adversely alter your child’s life forever. This is the reason why no one should have to live with the consequences of a negligent forceps delivery – least of all your child.
If you are a parent who has a child or children who have been injured by a forceps-assisted delivery, you should contact an experienced birth injury lawyer at Sommers Roth & Elmaleh today. We can help you review all of your legal options, and while not every birth injury is a result of medical negligence, your birth injury attorney can help you examine your case to make sure your doctor or medical institution did not act negligently during labour and delivery.
Contact Our Birth Injury Lawyers Today
If your infant suffered an injury and forceps-assisted delivery was used, we can help you. At Sommers Roth & Elmaleh, our birth injury lawyers understand that if your child suffered a birth injury you might be scared or anxious about their future.
We have received millions of dollars for clients affected by birth injury. These funds can be used to help you pay for medical expenses, care and future surgeries or medical procedures for your child.
If you would like to know more about obstetric negligence litigation, call Sommers Roth & Elmaleh at 416-961-1211 or contact us here.
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