Can Forceps Cause a Birth Injury?

Birth Injury Lawyer

Forceps is an instrument tool that is often used to assist with delivery of a newborn baby. These forceps looks like a pair of tongs, and is utilized to assist with vaginal delivery. However, when not used correctly this tool may apply too much pressure or pulling of the baby’s head. With every contraction, the doctor is to gently help guide the baby downward through the birth canal. When used appropriately, this tool can help babies get out quickly without harm. But, if used aggressively, severe damage to the newborn baby may occur.

Parents of newborns with birth injuries, may want to consult with a birth injury lawyer Houston, TX offers if they feel as though their doctor may have made a mistake when using forceps. Parents may be eligible to receive monetary compensation for the error that resulted in emotional, physical, and financial devastation.

Q: When are forceps most often used?

A: There are many devices and tools doctors may use to assist with a delivery. A doctor may determine that the baby needs a little prodding to get through the canal successfully. A doctor who uses forceps incorrectly or with too much assertion, may cause a birth injury. Depending on the damage done, the injury may be temporary or permanent. Reasons forceps may be utilized include:

  • The mother is exhausted from pushing and is becoming weak
  • The mother has suddenly starts bleeding excessively (hemorrhage)
  • The second stage of labor is prolonged
  • The mother was diagnosed with high blood pressure or heart disease, which can make pushing risky
  • The baby’s heart rate is not normal, and may be in fetal distress
  • The baby is angled with legs down first (breech delivery), and forceps may be inserted to help move the baby head first

Q: Are there specific conditions for using forceps, or is it by doctor discretion?

A: Doctors may determine that using forceps can be helpful to the baby’s delivery, but should use certain criteria before doing so. A doctor must first check to ensure that the baby’s head is engaged, the membranes have ruptured, the cervix is fully dilated, the fetal position is known, the mother’s bladder is empty, and risks have been explained to the mother.

A doctor that failed to identify these conditions prior to using the forceps, may have contributed to or directly caused a birth injury. Additionally, if forceps are not working, then the doctor may deem an emergency c-section is needed. A doctor must know when to stop using forceps and move forward to cesarean delivery.

Q: Are there any circumstances where forceps should not be used?

A: Yes, a forcep delivery should not happen if the baby is less than 34 weeks, the baby’s head it too large to smoothly pass through mother’s pelvis, the doctor is inexperienced with using such a tool, or there are signs of fetal illness. In general, a doctor should not use more than one type of tool during delivery. If the doctor decides to try forceps and is unsuccessful, then a vacuum extractor may not be used and the next step would be c-section birth.

Thank you to our friends and contributors at John K. Zaid & Associates for their insight into personal injury claims and how forceps can cause a birth injury.