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How can forceps cause birth injuries?

On Behalf of | Nov 27, 2023 | Medical Malpractice

Childbirth is an event often marked by anticipation and joy. However, the use of forceps during delivery, a common medical intervention, introduces the potential for birth injuries.

While forceps can be instrumental in helping with a challenging delivery, it is important to know the risks that may arise.

Purpose and usage

0.5% of American births that happened in 2021 included the use of forceps. Forceps, a pair of curved metal instruments designed to grip the baby’s head and help their passage through the birth canal, are often used when the natural progression of labor encounters complications.

External injuries

Despite their utility, forceps application is not without risks. The force applied to the baby’s head during extraction can result in bruising, lacerations or even fractures. This can compress delicate facial nerves, leading to facial nerve injuries, which can be distressing for both parents and newborns.

Internal injuries

Cephalohematoma is another potential consequence associated with forceps-assisted deliveries. This condition occurs when blood accumulates between the baby’s skull and the membrane covering the skull bones. The use of forceps increases the likelihood of cephalohematoma, causing swelling and potential complications such as jaundice.

Long-term effects on the mother

While much attention is rightfully given to the potential harm to the baby, forceps-assisted deliveries can also impact the mother. The excessive force applied during the procedure may lead to perineal tears, posing challenges in the postpartum recovery process.

Healthcare providers must communicate openly with their patients. They need to present the advantages and potential drawbacks of forceps application so there is no confusion.


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