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Do forceps deliveries pose birth injury risks?

Sometimes, women in Rhode Island, and throughout the U.S., may require assistance giving birth. When this happens, physicians use special tools in order to help guide the baby out of the birth canal. Among these tools are forceps, which look similar to two large spoons. While forceps can be helpful tools in these cases, their use may pose serious risks.

There are a number of reasons why physicians may opt for the use of forceps during deliveries. In some cases, a mother may be too tired to continue pushing, or a medical issue may make pushing too risky, according to MedlinePlus. Furthermore, in cases when the baby is showing signs of stress and needs to come out faster than a mother can push on her own, her health care provider may use forceps to speed the process.

Using forceps during delivery can pose a number of risks to both the infant and the mother. According to the Mayo Clinic, some of the most common birth injuries that may result from the use of forceps include the following:

  • Seizures
  • Skull fractures
  • Bleeding inside the skull
  • External eye trauma
  • Facial injuries
  • Facial palsy

The occurrence of injuries due to forceps is relatively rare, however, they are possible. Most commonly, infants will have minor marks on their faces. Such marks will typically dissipate over time.

While there is some risk of injuries to mothers during vaginal deliveries in general, some may be more likely following forceps deliveries. Women whose physicians use forceps to help them deliver may experience uterine rupture, lower genital tract wounds and tears, or pain in the perineum. Additionally, they may suffer injuries to the urethra or bladder, or experience fecal or urinary incontinence.

This post has provided an overview of the birth injury risks that forceps may carry. However, it is important to keep in mind that each case is unique and forceps do not always cause injuries. As such, this should be considered general information, and not be taken as professional legal advice.

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