Are forceps deliveries more dangerous than vacuum pressure deliveries?

Difficult or complicated deliveries can quickly cause your baby to become distressed. When this happens, your doctor must make immediate decisions to speed the birth along in order to get your baby out quickly. Unfortunately, these “life-saving” decisions, as well as the hasty way in which the decisions are carried out, can actually cause serious harm to you and your newborn.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one out of every twenty deliveries need doctor intervention to coax the baby out of the birth canal. Unfortunately, physician assistance provided by forceps or vacuum suction, also accounts for hundreds of maternal injuries and thousands of neonatal injuries every year.

Safety Concerns of Forceps Over Vacuums for Delivery Assistance

The two preferred ways to help assist a delivery, besides a cesarean, are with forceps and vacuum extractions. Vacuum extractions make up 33 percent of assisted deliveries, while the remaining 66 percent requires the use of forceps.

Vacuum extraction utilizes a suction cup to apply pressure to the top of your child’s head. While you continue to push, your doctor will pull your bay’s suction-cupped head out. During forceps assistance, the forceps are inserted within the birth canal and placed around your baby’s head. Once they’re tightly clamped, the doctor uses the handle to slowly twist and guide your baby’s head out. Unfortunately, both of these procedures provide advantages and disadvantages for you and your child.

Advantages

Forceps:

  • Quick delivery is assured with forceps, which means if your baby is under distress, your doctor can get him out as quickly as possible for medical treatment.
  • Forceps limits the need for stressful pushing, as your doctor provides the force to extract your baby, not you.

Vacuum:

  • Ease of placement. A big advantage of the vacuum extractor is that it is easier to place than the forceps. Because of its design, the vacuum may be applied to the top of the baby's head as it becomes visible in the birth canal.
  • Less injury to your vaginal soft tissues since the vacuum is easier to place and doesn’t need as much room within the birth canal
  • Less force is applied to your baby's head during extraction. One study found that vacuum extraction exerted approximately 40 percent less force to the baby's head than a forceps delivery.

Risks

Forceps:

  • Maternal injury can be caused by the forceps scraping, puncturing, or stretching your vaginal wall and bladder.
  • Lacerations and bruising can be significant on your baby’s head, face, and neck.
  • Increased risk of shoulder dystocia, a complication of delivery where your baby's head is delivered, but his shoulders remain above the pubic bone.
  • Increased risk for brain and head injuries due to the squeezing pressures of the forceps on your child’s head.
  • Increased risk for spinal damage due to violent jerking or twisting of your baby’s head during extraction.

Vacuum:

  • Delivery may take longer as the vacuum traction should be applied only during contractions. Therefore, vacuum-assisted vaginal delivery may be slower than forceps delivery.
  • Success rates are slightly lower for vacuum deliveries. Several large trials comparing the success of forceps with that of vacuum deliveries, found that forceps are more often successful.
  • Intracranial hemorrhage is more common due to the suction force and pressure applied to your baby’s skull.
  • Unlike forceps, vacuums still require your participation to help push your baby out.

Safety Stats Aside, What to Do When Your Baby Is Injured During Delivery

No matter which assistance your doctor opted for, if you believe that his negligence, carelessness, or inexperience caused injury during delivery, you may be entitled to medical compensation. Contact us today for a free consultation and review of your case. We’ll explain your rights and make sure you get the justice you deserve and the settlement you need for your family’s medical costs. Don’t allow your doctor’s mistake to ruin your family’s future.

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