Despite our hopes and dreams, not every birth goes smoothly. When complications arise during the birthing process, sometimes it is necessary for a doctor to use more invasive medical devices such as forceps to ensure the safe delivery of a child.
In the hands of an experienced obstetrician, forceps aid in a quick, painless and injury-free birth. When used improperly, they can cause serious and sometimes permanent injury to both you and your unborn child. If you or your child suffered forceps injury due to medical negligence, please call (800) 462-5772 for a free consultation with Stern Law, PLLC.
What are forceps?
Forceps are long, tong-like instruments that are specifically designed to grasp babies and remove them from the birth canal. There are several types of forceps that can be used to aid in delivery, most contain a curved end which is attached to a base that functions much like the bottom part of a pair of scissors or tongs.
While forceps come in all shapes and sizes, they are made in such a way so as not to reach further than your child’s head during the birthing process. The farthest point that forceps should reach is the tip of your baby’s cheeks.
How are forceps used?
Under certain circumstances, including an obstructed delivery or prolonged labor, the use of forceps may be necessary to quickly deliver your child in order to avoid fetal distress and other serious complications. Forceps should only be used when you are in the second stage of labor with your baby’s head fully engaged in the birth canal. You should be fully dilated with all membranes ruptured before forceps can properly be utilized.
Once a doctor determines that forceps are required, you should be administered an anesthetic before the forceps are inserted. Once the vagina is properly anesthetized, the forceps will be inserted with each handle of the device symmetrically placed on both sides of your baby’s head. The handles of the forceps will then be drawn together in order to firmly hold and cradle your baby’s head.
Depending upon the circumstances, your child’s head may be turned to an ideal position in order to allow for a quicker delivery. Once in place, the doctor must wait for you to experience a contraction, and at such time, will ask you to push and will gently pull your baby’s head out to allow for the rest of the birth to be facilitated manually.
Why are forceps used?
Doctors and other medical professionals have resorted to the use of forceps during a woman’s labor in order to help facilitate the birthing process and quickly deliver a child. There are a variety of reasons why doctors choose to use forceps, such as:
- An overly large baby;
- Prolonged labor – According to medical experts, after two hours of continuous pushing without much progress, forceps may be used to hasten the process and immediately deliver your child;
- Abnormal breech position – This refers to a birth in which your child is born in a breech position, meaning that he or she enters the birth canal with the buttocks or feet first as opposed to the normal head-first presentation;
- Shoulder dystocia – This is considered to be an obstetric emergency where your child’s shoulders are too large to pass through the birth canal during delivery;
- Fetal distress – The delivery of a child experiencing fetal distress may require the use of forceps;
- Maternal exhaustion;
- The avoidance of a cesarean delivery.
If your baby has been injured due to the negligent use of forceps, it is important to know that you have options. For a free review of your birth injury case, please contact Stern Law, PLLC online or call (800) 462-5772 today.