When a child is being born, there is a risk that injuries could occur. Labor and delivery does not always go smoothly, but medical teams are usually there to help guide the process.
If they make a mistake, though, it’s possible that a child could be hurt. For example, the improper use of forceps could lead to devastating results.
What are forceps?
Forceps are a medical device that work like tongs or a pair of tweezers. They are structured to grasp and hold objects. In labor and delivery, forceps have large grips that can hold onto the baby’s head to guide them out of the birth canal.
Forceps deliveries are normally done when there is a need for assistance. For example, the labor may not be progressing smoothly or there may be a health concern requiring labor to be moved along more quickly.
There are risks to using forceps during delivery
There are some significant risks to using forceps to deliver a baby. The risks to the mother include:
- Injuries to the urethra or bladder
- Short- or long-term fecal or urinary incontinence
- Pain in the perineum
- Lower genital tract tears
- Weakened pelvic muscles
- Uterine rupture
For the baby, some additional risks include:
- Facial injuries from the pressure of the forceps
- Bleeding within the skull
- Skull fractures
- Facial palsy
- Eye trauma
It is important that mothers have an opportunity to understand the risks and agree or disagree to use forceps. There are other options, such as using vacuums, which could help assist a delivery without the same risks as forceps.
If forceps are used incorrectly, the above injuries, or worse, could occur. It’s very important that they are only used with contractions and that they are used to guide, not pull, on a child. Remember, too, that these deliveries are not always successful, and a C-section may still be indicated. It’s helpful if women are given the opportunity to choose the right option for their delivery, especially if the forceps are unlikely to work considering the circumstances.
Every birth is different. If injuries occur because of errors made by the medical team, you need to look into your legal options.