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Forceps deliveries pose risks to mother, infant in childbirth

The goal of childbirth, whether via vaginal delivery or cesarean section, is to bring a healthy baby into the world. Sometimes complications arise during the birth of a child that may necessitate atypical medical intervention. For example, during vaginal childbirth a California doctor may opt to use the assistance of forceps to deliver a baby.

A forceps delivery occurs when a medical provider uses forceps to help extract an infant from the mother's birth canal. The use of forceps, which appear similar to a large pair of salad tongs, is potentially dangerous to both baby and mother, and they may cause birth injuries. Some of the potential serious risks for an infant include skull fracture, as the forceps are used on a baby's head to guide it through the birth canal, as well as bleeding within the skull, or seizures. Additionally, due to the use of forceps during delivery, a newborn may experience external eye trauma, facial injuries, or facial palsy, which is a temporary weakness in the facial muscles.

Risks to the mother that are possible with an unassisted vaginal delivery become more likely once forceps are used, as well. Some of these potential risks include uterine rupture, anemia, genital tract wounds or tears, as well as other injuries to the bladder and urethra. Furthermore, in the event a forceps delivery proves unsuccessful and a doctor is unable to extract the baby, it might be necessary to perform a cesarean section.

If you or a loved one has undergone a forceps delivery which has resulted in injuries to the baby or the mother, you may have a potential birth injury case, provided that the doctor was negligence while delivering care. An attorney may be able to offer guidance regarding potential legal options as they relate to your specific set of circumstances.

Source: Mayo Clinic, "Tests and Procedures: Forceps delivery," accessed Feb. 26, 2016

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