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The use of forceps during delivery

Doctors sometimes use a tool called forceps as a delivery assistance aid during vaginal deliveries in North Carolina and around the country. The tool is used to guide a baby's head through the birth canal if the mother is having difficulty pushing or the baby is in distress. Although forceps can be safely used to speed up the delivery process, there are also some potential risks to both the mother and the baby when forceps are used.

For the mother, the use of forceps could cause severe tears on the vagina or problems with urination or bowel movements after delivery. Risks to the baby include bruising, bumps or other marks on the baby's head or face. Pressure from the forceps could also result in nerve damage that could cause the baby's face muscles to droop. In severe cases, bleeding inside a baby's head could result in a more serious birth injury.

Before forceps can be used during a delivery, a doctor must make sure that the baby's head is a certain distance down the birth canal. The doctor must also check that the baby's head and face are in the right position. Most women will not require the use of forceps when giving birth, and the tool should only be used when there is a real need for an assisted delivery.

The improper use of forceps by a doctor could result in a baby suffering a preventable delivery injury. Parents who believe that their child may have been injured during an assisted delivery might want to speak with an attorney who may be able to investigate the facts surrounding the procedure and help the parents to file a medical malpractice lawsuit if negligence is suspected.

Source: National Institutes of Health, "Assisted delivery with forceps", accessed on Jan. 19, 2015

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