Is a Forceps Delivery Safe?

If handled correctly, forceps can help doctors deliver your baby safely. Unfortunately, forceps are often misused, which can result in unsafe conditions and injuries for you and your child. To better understand the risks of forceps delivery, you will need to learn about the different types of assisted vaginal delivery and when they are appropriate.

What Is Assisted Vaginal Delivery?

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG):

Assisted vaginal delivery is the vaginal birth of a baby performed with the help of forceps or a vacuum device. It is also called assisted vaginal birth.”

Forceps are special tools that are placed on the baby’s head, so the doctor can pull gently while you push and guide your baby out of the womb. MedlinePlus says forceps look like “2 large salad spoons.”

A vacuum device is a suction cup that the doctor places on your baby’s head to gently help with the birth.

Some doctors prefer forceps and others feel more comfortable using a vacuum device. Assisted vaginal delivery is often used to prevent a second-stage C-section.

When Is a Forceps Delivery Appropriate?

Doctors should only use forceps when your baby is far enough down the birth canal, and their head and face are in the proper position. If a doctor does not feel comfortable using forceps, they should opt for a vacuum device or a C-section instead. This is especially true because a failed forceps delivery will result in a C-section and could result in injuries and other complications.

Before using forceps during your delivery, your doctor must give you information about the procedure and obtain your consent. Your doctor may recommend a forceps delivery if:

  • You’re pushing, but labor isn’t progressing
  • You are too tired to push any longer and need help
  • A medical problem makes it risky for you to push
  • The baby needs to come out faster than you can push

A forceps delivery is not always appropriate. Sometimes, doctors misguide patients or misuse assistive devices.

If you think this may be the case for you, you should speak to an attorney immediately.

What Are the Side Effects of Forceps Delivery?

Forceps delivery may result in mild side effects for both you and your baby. Your child may experience:

  • Minor bruising
  • Forceps marks on the head or face
  • Temporary muscle weakness in the face
  • A swollen or cone-shaped head
  • Skull fracture
  • Bleeding

Serious side effects are rare, and your baby should heal in a few days or weeks.

Forceps delivery can be more painful for mothers and result in more severe vaginal tearing and problems with urinating and bowel movements. Forceps injuries can be life-changing for women, so many mothers want to ban the use of forceps and opt for vacuum devices instead.

Still, forceps rarely cause lasting problems when doctors use them correctly.

If you or your child suffer a serious injury during assisted vaginal delivery, something went wrong. Call a lawyer to discuss your rights and legal options.

Here at the Law Office of David A. Kates, PLLC, our founding attorney is ready to hear your story and put 20 years of experience on your side. Call David Kates at (718) 866-3664 or contact our firm online to schedule your free consultation today.