When complications arise during the labor and delivery process, sometimes it is necessary for a doctor to use more invasive medical techniques and devices, such as forceps and vacuum extractors, to ensure the safe delivery of a child. In the hands of experienced and attentive doctors, a vacuum extractor can facilitate a quick, painless and injury-free birth. However, when not used as they are intended, these tools can cause serious and sometimes permanent injury to both you and your unborn baby.
If you or your baby suffered vacuum extractor injuries, a lawyer at Stern Law, PLLC can discuss your legal options. Arrange a free consultation by calling (800) 462-5772 today.
Why is a vacuum extractor used?
A vacuum extractor is a device that assists medical professionals in guiding a child through the birth canal. It involves the use of a plastic or metal cup that is placed on a baby’s head during delivery. Once applied, a doctor either uses a hand pump or electric compressor to create enough suction to successfully extract a child from the vagina.
From the time that the first obstetrical vacuum extraction device was invented, they have been used under some of these circumstances:
- Prolonged labor – After two hours of continuous pushing without much progress, a vacuum extractor may be used to hasten the process and immediately deliver a child.
- Abnormal presentation, or breech birth – This refers to a birth in which a 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 wherein a child’s shoulders are too large to pass through the birth canal during delivery.
- A child experiencing fetal distress
- Maternal exhaustion
- The avoidance of a cesarean delivery
What are the contraindications associated with the use of a vacuum extractor?
In the following situations, the use of a vacuum extractor may not be appropriate:
- A woman is less than 34 weeks into her pregnancy
- When a medical professional has little to no experience using vacuum extraction devices
- An abnormal fetal position (i.e. breech position or buttocks-first)
- Maternal blood disorders
- A baby has a fetal scalp sampling, or a blood sample taken from the scalp of a fetus in utero
- The position of your baby’s head is unknown
- A small maternal pelvis size
- A baby has not advanced past the midline portion of the birth canal
- A baby has a disorder that affects the strength of his or her bones, or has a bleeding disorder such as hemophilia
- Previous failed use of forceps
- Overlapping cranial bones and heavy caput
- A baby is macrosomic
- Cephalopelvic disproportion of a baby
- The presence of cranial edema
Fetal injury due to vacuum extractor use
The types of birth injuries associated with the improper use of a vacuum extractor include:
- Swelling of the soft tissues on a baby’s head and scalp (caput succedaneum)
- Hemorrhaging and hematoma in the head and neck area
- Cerebral palsy
- Brachial plexus injuries
- Klumpke’s palsy
- Erb’s palsy
- Cranial nerve injuries
- Peripheral nerve injuries
- Partial or complete paralysis
- Bone injuries, including skull, cervical and neck fractures
- Bumps, bruising and lacerations on a child’s face, head and shoulders
- Developmental delay
- Retinal birth injuries
Although a vacuum extractor can cause serious injuries to a child during the birthing process, it is also worth noting that they can also cause medical complications for you both during and after birth, such as:
- Extensive vaginal tearing
- Bruising or lacerations to the vagina
- Post-partum problems with urinating or passing a bowel movement
- Persistent post-partum pain
Not every attorney has the level of medical and legal experience has required in handling a birth injury lawsuit. Because doctors and hospitals often have limitless funds available to pay for their defense representation, you need informed, experienced and aggressive representation to protect your child.
At Stern Law, PLLC, we know of no greater reward than to assist parents in need by making a real difference in their lives, especially when the health of their child was at stake. For a free review of your birth injury case, please call (800) 462-5772 to begin receiving qualified guidance in your birth injury case.