What Is a Forceps Birth Injury?

Childbirth is a momentous occasion, but it can also bring unforeseen complications. One such complication is a forceps birth injury, which can have long-lasting effects on both the child and the parents.

If you believe your child has suffered a forceps birth injury, it's crucial to seek legal assistance promptly to protect your rights and ensure justice is served.

Defining Forceps Birth Injury

A forceps birth injury is an injury that occurs during delivery when forceps are used to assist in the birthing process. Forceps are a medical tool that resembles large, curved tongs and are used by doctors to safely guide a baby out of the birth canal.

This method is often used when there are complications during labor, such as the baby being in distress or the mother's health being at risk. While forceps births can be an effective method in certain situations, there are also risks and potential complications that may arise.

Common Types of Forceps Birth Injuries

  • Bruising or lacerations on the baby's head or face: Due to the pressure placed on the baby's delicate skin by the forceps, bruising or lacerations can occur. These injuries are usually minor and heal on their own within a few days.
  • Facial palsy: This is when the baby's facial nerve is damaged during delivery, causing temporary paralysis of the face. This condition typically resolves on its own within a few weeks or months.
  • Skull fractures: In rare cases, forceps may cause a fracture in the baby's skull. This can happen if too much pressure is applied or if the baby's head is in an abnormal position.
  • Brain injuries: Forceps delivery has also been linked to brain injuries in newborns, including bleeding inside the skull or damage to brain tissue. These injuries can have long-lasting effects on the baby's development and may require medical treatment.
  • Shoulder dystocia: This is a condition where the baby's shoulder becomes stuck behind the mother's pubic bone during delivery. Forceps can sometimes be used to help maneuver the baby out, but this can also result in injuries such as nerve damage or broken bones in the collarbone or arm.

Recognizing the Symptoms of a Forceps Birth Injury

  • Bruising or swelling on the baby's head: Forceps can leave marks or bruises on the baby's scalp, which may appear as redness or discoloration. In some cases, this can also result in swelling.
  • Facial injuries: Due to the use of forceps around the baby's head and face, there is a risk of injury to the facial nerves. This can lead to conditions such as Bell's palsy, which can cause temporary or permanent paralysis on one side of the face.
  • Cephalohematoma: This refers to a collection of blood beneath the baby's scalp. It may appear as a lump or swelling and can increase the risk of infection if not properly treated.
  • Skull fractures: The use of forceps during delivery can also lead to skull fractures in the baby. This may result in symptoms such as vomiting, irritability, or seizures.
  • Brain damage: In severe cases, the use of forceps during delivery can cause brain damage in the baby. This can result in long-term developmental delays, neurological issues, or even death.


Any birth injury can have a profound impact on a child's life and the emotional well-being of the entire family. Understanding the causes, risks, and legal options associated with forceps birth injuries is crucial for affected families to seek justice and secure the compensation they deserve.

If you believe your child has suffered a forceps birth injury, do not hesitate to reach out to the Law Office of David A. Kates, PLLC. Our experienced team is dedicated to fighting for the rights of families affected by medical malpractice, ensuring a brighter future for your child.

Contact us today to learn more.