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Forceps deliveries riskier to babies and moms

It would be lovely if all labors and deliveries preceded predictably with healthy outcomes for the infants and their mothers. But unfortunately, not all births are easy and some may even end tragically.

Often, the mothers desire natural, drug-free births and prepare for the same. Yet, when complications develop during the birthing process, the obstetricians and medical personnel assisting them must be prepared for all possibilities. In some cases, that can mean a delivery using forceps.

When forceps are used to guide the infant out of the mother's birth canal as she pushes, certain risks to both mother and baby can occur, including those listed below.

Risks to the mother

  • Pelvic organ prolapse
  • Tears to the lower genital tract
  • Problems with emptying bladder
  • Fecal incontinence
  • Uterine rupture
  • Damage to urethra or bladder

Risks to the baby

  • Facial palsy
  • Skull fracture
  • Eye trauma
  • Bleeding inside the skull
  • Facial injuries and bruising
  • Seizures

Forceps deliveries may be necessary in order to assist the baby with moving out of the birth canal. But obstetricians must be skillful in their use of these tools or face liability for the problems that ensue during the forceps birth. In extremely rare cases, babies have even died when forceps were used improperly.

That's certainly the worst-case scenario and not likely to happen. But part of the job of you obstetrician is to interpret the signs that a vaginal delivery might be too stressful for mother or baby and to plan instead to do a C-section.

If you or your baby suffered harm during a forceps delivery, you may be able to seek financial compensation from the medical professionals who acted negligently and caused those damages.

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