A study comparing morbidity and mortality rates in C-sections versus Forceps or Vacuum.

If complications arise during birth, a doctor may choose to deliver a baby via Cesarean section, or use one of two instruments to help the delivery in what is called operative vaginal delivery. During operative vaginal delivery, 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 using either forceps or a vacuum 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 2014 only 3.2% of deliveries in the US used an instrument, though some are advocating for increased operative vaginal delivery to lower the rate of C-sections (Muraca, 2019). With a lack of consistent research comparing the safety of these two types of deliveries, a group of researchers looked into the morbidity (medical problems) and mortality (death) in a retrospective study. Muraca and colleagues used data from all across Canada of deliveries within a 10-year span. Most importantly, they focused on operative deliveries and C-sections during the second stage of labor of full-term pregnancies.   


They found “operative vaginal delivery by forceps or vacuum among women with dystocia is associated with higher rates of severe perinatal morbidity, whereas vacuum delivery is associated with lower rates of severe maternal morbidity compared with Caesarean delivery". There were also significantly increased rates of birth trauma in the operative vaginal delivery group, with 1 in 10 women suffering a severe perineal laceration (Muraca, 2019).  


As the researchers point out, counseling women about the risks and benefits of both operative vaginal deliveries as well as C-sections should always occur. 


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. 

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