First, why are forceps used? A forceps delivery is used to assist in delivery. During delivery doctors may have to use forceps (these resemble two large salad tongs) to help guide the baby’s head through the birth canal. These are sometimes used to speed up delivery of the baby if mom and baby are showing signs of distress. Doctors primarily use vacuum or c-section options instead of forceps. Doctors aren’t as trained in forceps like they used to be. One of the most serious types of injuries from forceps delivery is bleeding or swelling inside the baby’s skull, which can result in brain injury to the baby. Damage to the baby’s facial nerves and skull fractures can also occur. Damages to mom can be tears to the vagina, trouble urinating, etc. Sometimes an episiotomy will be performed. This is a surgical cut that is made at the opening of the vagina during childbirth. This is to prevent rupture of tissues. The tear is repaired with dissolvable sutures and mom will experience discomfort for a few weeks.
Why is vacuum delivery used? This is not like a “Hoover” vacuum so get that image out of your head. A suction cup with a handle is placed on the baby’s head to help guide the baby through the birth canal. This method is also used to assist in delivery of the baby. If this can’t be achieved after two pulls or it “pops” off the head this can cause injury. Just like the forceps delivery a vacuum delivery has risks also. These include cephalohematoma, shoulder dystocia, jaundice, skull fracture, etc. The mom’s side effects are pain in the perineum, tears in the vagina (referenced above is the “fix” for this issue), short or long-term incontinence, etc.
Damage to mom, although it sounds awful, is usually fixable where damage to the baby is usually more involved and more long term. Physicians must be ready to perform an immediate c-section if one of these methods has failed. Some doctors try too long and delays like this can be devastating for the infant. If your baby suffered injury due to incompetent use of birth-assisting tools then Thomas & Wan, LLP can help. Please call us for a free consultation today.