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Are there birth injury risks with forceps deliveries?

Even after a healthy pregnancy, difficulties can arise during the labor and delivery process for mothers in California, and elsewhere. In some cases, a health care professional may need to use tools, such as forceps, to help get the baby out. While such tools can be very helpful and decrease the need for a Cesarean section, the use of forceps during deliveries can also pose birth injury risks.

Essentially, forceps look similar to two large spoons. Forceps deliveries are often needed in cases when mothers are too tired to continue pushing on their own, have a medical issue that makes pushing risky, or if the baby needs assistance coming through the final portion of the birth canal. Additionally, forceps may be used in situations when the infant is showing signs of distress and needs to come out faster than the mother can push herself.

For the most part, any injuries that a baby may suffer due to a forceps delivery are minor and quickly heal. However, there are some more serious risks that can have lasting effects. According to the Mayo Clinic, the more serious types of birth injuries resulting from forceps deliveries include the following:

  •        Seizures
  •        Internal bleeding in the skull
  •        Skull fractures
  •        Facial palsy, or weakness in the facial muscles
  •        External trauma to the eyes

While possible, the Mayo Clinic reports that these risks are rare. More often, infants sustain bumps and bruises on their heads and faces that generally heal with time.

This post has provided an overview of the birth injury risks that forceps deliveries can pose. It is important to remember, however, that each case is unique. Therefore, this should not be taken as professional legal advice and should instead be considered only as general information. 

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