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Forceps and Vacuum Injuries Explained

Michael H. Bereston

Sometimes during the birthing process, medical professionals use assistive devices. Forceps and vacuums are sometimes used in vaginal and cesarean deliveries to expedite delivery of the baby.

These methods are amazing resources when used properly. However, there are risks associated with the use of forceps and vacuums especially when placed or used improperly. The skull of a newborn is very soft and can easily be injured if forceps or vacuums are misapplied or misused.

Forceps Injuries

Forceps are a set of metal instruments that are placed around the skull of the baby that allows the healthcare provider to pull while the mother pushes to aid in getting the baby out quickly

A baby’s skull is soft, as it is not fully developed at the time of labor and delivery. Because of this, there are injuries that may be caused by the improper placement or use of forceps. The most common injuries are minor bruises and cuts to the scalp and face.

However, the improper placement or use of forceps may cause much more severe injuries, including:

● Disfigurement

● Bleeding in the brain

● Skull fractures

● Facial nerve damage

● Injuries to the baby’s eyes

Vacuum Extraction Injuries

Like forceps, vacuum extraction is most often used with a vaginal delivery but can also be used to assist during a cesarean delivery. Vacuum cups can be soft or rigid, bell-shaped, mushroom-shaped or discoid if the baby is posterior. The amount of suction applied, by whom the suction is applied, when it is applied and how long it is applied are all a part of vacuum placement and use that is directed by the healthcare provider. “Pop offs” where the cup pops off of the head of the baby must be closely monitored during the use of the vacuum as it may be a sign that the use of a vacuum should be abandoned.

Injuries from the vacuum can be from improper placement, too long of time of vacuum pressure applied to the baby’s head, as well as improper use/pulling/rotation of the vacuum. The injuries to the baby may include brain bleeds, eye injuries, neck injuries, abrasions and laceration of the scalp and brachial plexus injuries.

Informed consent prior to use is required.

Know Your Rights

Mothers going through labor and delivery should always be completely informed regarding any procedure that is done, medication given, or treatment ordered. If a vacuum extraction or the use of forceps becomes necessary during the delivery of your child, the healthcare provider must explain the risks associated with each assistance method, along with other available solutions. It should always be their first priority to limit the potential risk of injury to both the baby and the mother.

If you’ve been a victim of medical negligence resulting in birth injury, it is in your best interest to speak with a nationwide birth injury attorney. Working with an experienced birth injury attorney can help you recover compensation for you and your baby’s suffering.

Call The Law Firm of Michael H. Bereston, Inc. today at (410) 220-6581 to discuss the available options to protect your rights and overall well-being.

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Mother kissing her baby's feet