Forceps Delivery Complications and Cerebral Palsy

Birth Injury, Causes of Cerebral Palsy

set of delivery forceps on a blue patterned background

During some deliveries, the mother isn’t able to move the baby out of the birth canal through pushing alone, or there may be safety or health issues that make unassisted delivery impossible or dangerous. When the health of the mother or baby is at risk, other options may need to be considered, such as a forceps delivery. Forceps are a medical instrument that may be used to assist in delivering a baby when assistance is required.

Why Forceps May Be Used During Delivery

Forceps-assisted deliveries may be performed during vaginal childbirth. The forceps grasp a baby’s head and are used to guide and pull the baby out of the birth canal. One of the most common reasons for the use of forceps is that labor isn’t progressing, no matter how hard the mother is pushing.

Another reason forceps are used is that the baby is facing the wrong way as it’s coming out of the birth canal. For instance, if the baby’s face is up, forceps may be used to flip the baby around, so their face is pointing downwards. Finally, forceps might be used if there’s an indication the baby or mother is struggling, and the baby needs to be delivered immediately.

When Forceps Shouldn’t be Used During Delivery

In most situations where a medical professional may consider using forceps during the delivery process, a cesarean section may also be an option. There may be specific reasons why a physician elects to perform a C-section instead of using forceps.

If complications appear while a baby is still located too far inside the mother’s womb and hasn’t progressed far enough into the birth canal, forceps might not be the ideal choice for guiding the baby out. Other times, the position of the baby doesn’t allow for the use of forceps. This may be the case when a shoulder or arm precedes the head.

If a mother’s pelvis side size makes delivery more complicated, a C-section may be a better option instead of using forceps.

What Are the Symptoms of Forceps Injury?

Forceps injuries are typically easy to recognize and diagnose. Usually, you can see bruising on the baby’s head, skin, or face matching marks from the forceps. Other symptoms may include bleeding in the brain, skull fractures, seizures, a strangely shaped head, bleeding, and unusual behavior. It’s essential to immediately notify medical professionals of any of these symptoms, so they can treat them appropriately.

Risks Associated With Forceps Delivery

As complications arise, the doctor or medical team may suggest the need for forceps. However, it’s important for mothers to know the risks associated with forceps-assisted delivery complications. These can include:

  • Brain injury
  • Eye trauma
  • Injuries to the face due to the pressure of the forceps
  • Facial palsy or muscle weakness in the face
  • Skull fractures
  • Possible bleeding in the brain
  • Nerve damage
  • Seizures

There are also risks associated with using forceps during delivery for the mother, including:

  • Pain after delivery
  • Wounds and tears
  • Anemia and blood loss
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Uterine rupture
  • Urethra or bladder damage
  • Pelvic organ prolapse due to weakened muscles in the pelvic area

The risk of a birth injury to a baby from forceps delivery complications is real, but the majority of injuries are minor, resolving themselves over a short period of time. While serious injuries aren’t common, they can happen and sometimes result in permanent disabilities.

Forceps Delivery, Permanent Disabilities and Cerebral Palsy

It’s important to understand the risks associated with both using forceps during delivery and having a C-section delivery. While serious or permanent damage from using forceps during delivery is rare, they are more common with an instrument-aided delivery than with a C-section. If a medical professional places too much pressure or traction on a baby’s head, it can result in irreparable brain damage.

Cerebral palsy (CP) is one such type of permanent disability that can result from using forceps during the delivery process. Excessive pressure on the baby’s brain may result in brain damage, an underlying cause of cerebral palsy. Depending on how severe this damage is, it may cause mild, moderate, or even severe cerebral palsy.

Cerebral palsy isn’t the only possible damage that can result from using forceps during delivery. If, while gently pulling on the head, the forceps stretch the nerves of the brachial plexus, the baby may end up with shoulder dystocia, Erb’s palsy, or brachial plexus palsy. All these conditions affect the sensation or movement in the hands and arms. These may be mild, with the child recovering from them, or they may be long-lasting, resulting in permanent disability to the arm.

If your child has, in fact, developed cerebral palsy and you believe it to be because of medical negligence, then you may have a case for compensation. Talk to the experienced, dedicated Cerebral Palsy Family Lawyers at Janet, Janet & Suggs, LLC. They can help you uncover the truth and seek the justice you deserve.

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