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The role of forceps in birth injuries

When a baby is having difficulty coming down the birth canal, a physician in New York may opt to use forceps. These long, tong-like devices can also help speed up a delivery in situations where there is fetal distress. However, as Science Daily points out, the use of forceps can cause injury during birth to both the mother and the child.

The infant may be at risk for the most severe injuries. The use of forceps has been linked to skull fractures and bleeding in an infant’s skull. Physicians who are not properly trained on how to use the device could cause an eye injury or even brain damage that leads to seizures.

Some less severe situations include birth trauma such facial nerve palsy, as the U.S. National Library of Medicine points out. When forceps squeeze an infant’s face too tightly, it can lead to the loss of voluntary muscle movement in the baby’s face.

Studies have shown that the mother is also at risk for a number of injuries, including the following: 

  • Mothers may experience vaginal tears and trauma.
  • The use of forceps was linked to incontinence in mothers following birth.
  • Mothers have had uterine ruptures and injuries to their bladders.

Experts suggest that parents put together a birth plan for the measures they wish to take during delivery. The plan should outline any possible medical interventions, including the use of medicines to induce labor, forceps or a vacuum. For those who wish to avoid forceps, the Mayo Clinic advises that parents ask the physician to try other ways to encourage labor to progress. This could include adjusting positions, easing off an anesthetic or using intravenous medication.

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