Forceps Can Lead To Preventable Injuries

It's impossible to predict how, exactly, your labor and delivery will go. Sometimes, everything seems on track right up until the very end. Unexpected complications can threaten your baby's well-being at any point during the process.

One such complication is the need for special measures to get your baby out. Your doctor may use forceps — a tong-shaped instrument designed to help deliver the baby's head — if:

  • Contractions have stopped or aren't strong enough to deliver the baby.
  • It's unsafe for you to push because of an underlying medical condition.
  • Your baby isn't in the ideal position for delivery.
  • You have a large baby (fetal macrosomia).
  • Your baby is showing signs of fetal distress.
  • You need a swift delivery for other reasons.

What Can Go Wrong?

Forceps can be damaging to both mother and baby — especially if used improperly. The doctor should take care to use only moderate traction, since excessive force could cause brain damage or other serious injuries.

A successful forceps delivery depends on not only the skill of the operator, but also proper timing. Certain conditions must be present before attempting a forceps delivery:

  • The cervix must be fully dilated.
  • The membranes must have ruptured.
  • The baby's head must be sufficiently engaged in the vaginal canal.
  • The head must be positioned the right way.
  • There must be no significant cephalopelvic disproportion (that is, the pelvis must be large enough to accommodate the baby's head).
  • The mother's bladder should be completely empty.

Improper use of forceps can cause complications such as:

Most forceps injuries happen not only from lack of technical skill, but also from errors in judgment during the delivery. If for any reason a forceps delivery will increase the risk to the mother or baby, the doctor should consider a Cesarean section instead.

We're On Your Side

Forceps are a leading cause of birth injuries in Massachusetts. At Barry D. Lang, M.D. & Associates, we're on the side of the mothers, babies and families who are suffering long-term consequences because of medical negligence during the course of labor and delivery. Our attorneys are familiar with the harm that can result from problematic forceps deliveries. We have doctors and nurses on staff, which means we have the knowledge and resources to thoroughly investigate your case.

Contact our office in the Boston area at 800-LAWYERS to discuss your situation. Your consultation is free of charge.