If complications arise during birth, a doctor may choose to use one of two instruments to help the delivery along: either forceps or a vacuum. While these instruments are rarely used—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that doctors used them in only 3.21 percent of births in 2014—it’s important you understand what they are, why they’re used, and what to do if you and your baby suffer injuries during an instrument delivery.
Why Doctors Need Instruments for Deliveries
While expectant parents hope for a smooth delivery, not every birth happens easily. Sometimes there are complications that require the use of a special instrument to get the baby out safely. Instead of instructing a mother to push a baby through the birth canal or using his hands to guide the baby out, the doctor may opt for an instrument delivery because:
- The baby is stuck in the birth canal
- The baby begins to experience fetal distress, and the heart rate becomes concerning
- The mother is instructed not to push as a safety precaution
In a forceps delivery, a metal tool is used with two curved arms resembling tongs. The doctor uses the forceps by sliding the tool around the child’s head and gently pulling. Although it is a safe way to assist with a difficult delivery, forceps pose risks to both mother and child, including:
- Vaginal tearing
- Difficulty for the mother to evacuate her bladder or bowels after birth
- Small cuts or bruises to the baby’s face caused by the forceps arms
A vacuum extractor, also known as a ventouse, is a small metal or plastic cup that uses suction to help the baby out of the birth canal. Typically, a doctor will apply the suction instrument to the top of the baby’s head and gently pull. Although the vacuum is less likely to cause vaginal tearing, other risks include:
- Additional pain in the vagina and perineum after birth
- Scalp wounds on the baby such as bruising and cuts
- Possible skull fracturing or bleeding
It’s important to note that both instruments pose risks of anemia and weakening of pelvic muscles, and after attempting an instrument delivery, a doctor may choose to perform a C-section instead.
Instrument Deliveries May Lead to a Birth Injury Case
If a doctor failed to uphold the expected standard of care and caused you or your baby undue injury during an instrument delivery, call The Holton Law Firm. We can discuss your situation and eligibility for compensation. Contact us today by starting a live online chat on our website.