How can forceps used during birth lead to serious injuries?

On Behalf of | Oct 24, 2023 | Medical malpractice

Childbirth, a wonderful and natural process, can sometimes require medical intervention for the safety of both mother and child. Forceps, a tool used during delivery, can be instrumental in assisting a baby’s journey through the birth canal.

However, the use of forceps is not without its risks. In certain cases, forceps application can lead to serious injuries.

Increased risk of perineal tears

Forceps, though designed to facilitate a smoother delivery, can contribute to an increased risk of perineal tears. The force exerted on the baby’s head during extraction may cause trauma to the delicate tissues surrounding the birth canal. Perineal tears, if severe, can lead to long-term complications, affecting a woman’s postpartum recovery and quality of life.

Facial nerve damage to newborns

The delicate features of a newborn’s face make them susceptible to injury during forceps-assisted deliveries. With trauma being the cause of 6% to 27% of facial nerve palsies, it is clear that improper application or excessive force can lead to facial nerve damage.

This impacts the baby’s ability to make facial expressions. Such injuries can be distressing for parents and may require specialized medical care to ensure proper healing.

Cranial injuries

One concern associated with forceps-assisted deliveries is the potential for skull injuries to the newborn. The skull is susceptible to damage if doctors use excessive force.

Cranial injuries can range from minor skull fractures to more severe conditions such as intracranial hemorrhage. This can pose a threat to the long-term neurological health of the infant.

Maternal hemorrhage and pelvic floor damage

Forceps application can also contribute to problems for the mother, including hemorrhage and pelvic floor damage. Excessive bleeding puts the mother at risk of postpartum complications. Additionally, the pressure applied to the pelvic floor can result in long-lasting damage, potentially leading to issues such as pelvic organ prolapse in the future.

Healthcare workers must carefully weigh the benefits and potential drawbacks of this tool. Ensuring the well-being of both mother and child during the journey of childbirth should be at the front of the doctor’s mind during birth.