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Forceps & Vacuum Injuries

Sometimes, during birth, an infant may need a little help getting through the birth canal. Difficult labor conditions could be caused by an unusual birth position, high birth weight, the shape and size of the mother’s pelvis and birth canal, and other maternal and fetal health conditions. Prolonged labor can also exhaust both mother and child, so doctors will do what they can to deliver the baby within a certain amount of time. To help with this process, a physician might use vacuum extraction or forceps to support the delivery. However, while they may speed up the process, they can also cause their own dangers.

Vacuum extraction involves placing small, flexible, round cups to the infant’s head in the birth canal. An electrical or handheld pump is then used to create suction, so the cup holds securely to the baby’s head. The doctor can then pull gently on the cup to guide the infant down the birth canal as the mother pushes. This technique can be used only if the baby is born head first and is at full term; vacuum extraction could be dangerous for premature infants.

A forceps delivery, on the other hand, is similar to the vacuum extraction, except the doctor will instead insert a pair of spoon-shaped tongs into the birth canal to gently grasp the sides of the baby’s head. He or she will use the tongs to pull out the baby gently as the mother pushes. These tools are used for babies in abnormal birth positions and premature infants.

While these techniques are generally safe, they can cause injuries to the baby’s head. Bruising is a prevalent side effect; while it might look terrible at first, the bruising is generally harmless and will heal within a few days. A bruise caused by vacuum extraction, called cephalohematoma, may increase a child’s risk for developing mild jaundice. The pressure of the vacuum extraction can also break minor blood vessels in the infant’s eyes.

More severe injuries include bleeding in the skull or skull fracture. Those injuries can result in permanent brain damage and can put a child at risk for lifelong physical and intellectual disabilities. Strokes, fractures, broken bones, and even facial paralysis can occur from these techniques. If your physician caused significant damage to your child through negligence or carelessness, talk to us about your case as soon as possible. Our skilled Baltimore birth injury attorneys can help. Our firm has more than 100 years of combined legal experience to offer you and your family.

Contact us at (410) 567-0800 or fill out our online form to schedule a free case consultation with us today.

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