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What Expecting Mothers Should Know About Forceps Delivery

Updated April 21, 2021 | By Wilson Kehoe Winingham staff

What Is Forceps Delivery?

Forceps delivery is a type of assisted vaginal delivery that is sometimes needed in the course of vaginal childbirth when the infant gets stuck. During this procedure, the doctor uses forceps–an instrument that looks like oversized salad tongs–to help guide the baby out of the birth canal. The forceps grip the baby’s head to help reposition the baby, and this special instrument is typically used during a contraction while the mother is pushing.

Even though there is an increase in operative deliveries, the rates of forceps delivery have decreased significantly in the United States. This is because there is an increasing preference for vacuum extraction or for cesarean section (C-section) delivery when certain complications arise. These alternative options are oftentimes less risky and more effective, and some doctors are not trained in or comfortable with all operative vaginal delivery methods.

Why Might Forceps Be Used?

There are many reasons why your doctor could recommend a forceps delivery, such as:

  • Labor stops progressing
  • Your baby’s heart-rate becomes abnormal
  • You have a health concern or certain medical conditions (such as cardiac diseases)
  • Your baby is facing the wrong direction

There are also reasons your doctor could caution against a forceps delivery, such as:

  • The position of the baby’s head is unknown
  • Your baby has a condition affecting the strength of his or her bones
  • Your baby’s head or body is too large to fit through your pelvis

What Are the Maternal and Fetal Risks Associated with Forceps Delivery?

Forceps delivery can result in complications for both mothers and infants. Although rare, there are specific risks associated with this delivery method.

Potential risks to mothers include:

  • Increased tearing around the vagina, rectum, and/or urethra
  • Increased blood loss (which could lead to anemia)
  • Involuntary urination after birth

Potential risks to infants include:

  • Facial injuries
  • Weakness in facial muscles
  • External eye damage
  • Skull fracture
  • Bleeding (internal and/or external)
  • Seizures
  • Nerve damage

What Is Considered Negligence in Forceps Delivery?

Some examples of negligence in forceps delivery include:

  • Failure to perform a C-section instead of using forceps when necessary
  • Any other deviation from the standard of care (the position of the baby’s head in unknown, the baby has a condition affecting the strength of his or her bones, the baby is too large to fit through the pelvis, or the baby is breech)

Contact a Birth Injury Attorney Today

If you believe that your child has been injured as a result of forceps delivery, your first step is to reach out to a birth injury lawyer. An Indianapolis birth injury lawyer and staff can help you build a case and get you and your child the help you need.

With a strong and trustworthy attorney, you’ll have someone advocating for what’s rightfully yours. Contact Wilson Kehoe Winingham for a consultation to decide how to best move forward with your case. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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