What Is Vacuum Extraction?
Childbirth doesn’t always go smoothly. Sometimes, the doctor needs to help the mother deliver her baby through the use of specialized medical devices. A vacuum extractor is one such device. The doctor applies a soft suction cup to the baby’s head and pulls with each contraction. If after three to five pulls the baby’s head hasn’t moved, it may be time for a Cesarean section.
Using a vacuum or forceps under the wrong circumstances can cause serious harm to the fetus. Vacuum extraction is only an option if the baby’s head is sufficiently engaged in the pelvis. The mother’s water must have been broken, and the baby must be in the right position — meaning not a breech, brow or face presentation.
What Can Go Wrong?
While vacuum extraction may be necessary in some situations, it comes with risks. Doctors attempting a vacuum delivery must proceed with the utmost of caution. If the doctor is negligent in any way, the baby can suffer from life-threatening complications such as:
- Bleeding in the brain
- Skull fractures
- Oxygen deprivation
- Brain damage
- Inability to deliver the shoulders (shoulder dystocia)
- Nerve damage and paralysis
When these complications happen, it’s often because the doctor didn’t perform the extraction correctly. Dangerous mistakes include:
- Misplacing the suction cup in a vulnerable spot on the baby’s head
- Using excessive traction (pulling with too much force)
- Pulling between contractions rather than with them
- Performing an extraction under the wrong conditions
- Failing to order a Cesarean section when warranted
We Understand These Difficult Cases
Wondering whether your baby’s injuries from a vacuum extraction could have been prevented? At Barry D. Lang, M.D. & Associates, our attorneys can determine whether negligence played a role. We have the legal and medical knowledge to help you get answers.