Forceps Delivery Injury - Medical Negligence Solicitors – Compensation Claims

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Forceps Delivery Injury

A forceps delivery is one in which a forceps device is clamped around the baby’s head in a complicated delivery in which the infant head isn’t coming out as expected. The gynecologist may do a forceps delivery if the labor has met certain criteria. Your cervix must be completely dilated, the membranes must have been ruptured and the baby must be head first down in the birth canal. However, the baby must be stuck. A forceps delivery must be used as a last resort before going on to cesarean section.

Reasons why you might have a forceps delivery include:

  • Pushing without progress of labor. If you’ve pushed for 2-3 hours and this is your first baby, the labor will be considered stalled. Less time will have passed in a multiparous pregnancy to be considered stalled. You must be at a hospital or birthing center to be able to do a forceps delivery because an emergency cesarean may need to be performed.
  • Your baby’s heart beat might be nonreassuring. The pulse may be too high or too low so a forceps delivery is recommended to have an immediate delivery.
  • You have a personal health concern such as a heart defect so the amount of time you’re allowed to push is limited.
  • The baby’s head is facing up in the occiput posterior position rather than head down in an occiput anterior position. The face up position can be difficult to have the head pass through.

During a forceps delivery, a cesarean section delivery must also be an option if the forceps fails.

A forceps delivery might be contraindicated in the following circumstances:

  • The baby hasn’t passed the midpoint of the birth canal
  • You don’t know the position of the head
  • The baby has a bleeding disorder or bone disorder such as osteogenesis imperfecta.
  • The baby’s shoulders or arms are the lead point in the birth canal.
  • The baby might be trying to fit through a pelvis that is just too small or the baby’s head is just too big.

The forceps delivery can be dangerous to both the baby and the mother but in different ways. The risks and complications of the forceps delivery include:

  • Perineal pain. This is the area between your vagina and the anus.
  • Tears and wounds in the lower genital area or rectum.
  • Difficulty voiding or emptying the bladder after the procedure.
  • Urinary or fecal incontinency, which is usually temporary.
  • Anaemia from excessive blood loss during the delivery from the forceps.
  • Damage to the urethra or bladder from the forceps pushing on them.
  • A uterine rupture, when the baby breaks through the uterine wall and into the abdominal cavity.
  • Pelvic organ prolapse from damage to the pelvic structures that hold up the bladder and uterus.

The above risks can happen in any vaginal delivery, but they are much more likely to occur in forceps delivery. An episiotomy is done in most cases of forceps deliveries and this increases the risk of excessive bleeding and postpartum pain. Infection is at a greater degree if an episiotomy has to be performed.

There can be risks to the baby as well. These include the following:

  • Temporary facial palsy
  • Facial wounds from pressure on the face by the forceps
  • External eye trauma
  • Bleeding within the skull
  • Skull fractures
  • Seizures

It is normal to have minor marks on the baby’s scalp and face but these are temporary. It is uncommon to have a severe injury to the infant’s skin. Marks can happen in different areas of the skin if the forceps was placed on the baby’s head incorrectly. This is why it is very important to know the exact position of the head before applying the forceps.

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