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Understanding the risks of a forceps delivery

Sometimes during a delivery, things don't go as planned. If the child isn't responding as expected or something else out of the ordinary occurs, doctors may decide to change the method of birth. When this happens, however, it is important that the mother be informed of the possible risks associated with a method she wasn't planning on.

Some people in Indianapolis may have heard of a forceps delivery. It is a type of vaginal birth method used when the mother is not able to push the child out or other health concerns in the mother or child arise. The delivery involves placing forceps -- which look like two long spoons -- around the baby's head to guide it out. A forceps delivery, however, comes with several risks to the mother and baby.

A forceps delivery heightens the risk of tears and injuries to the lower genital tract, anemia, bladder or urethra injuries, and a ruptured uterus. For the baby, risks include, facial injuries, skull fracture, facial palsy, bleeding in the skull, external eye injuries and seizures.

Although the risks to the child are relatively rare, you deserve to be informed of the possibilities in case your doctor chooses to use forceps in your delivery. If your doctor thinks a forceps delivery is the best option for you, he or she is responsible for explaining the benefits and risks before proceeding. Your doctor also must always receive your consent.

We are not sharing this information with you to make you worried about the labor process. Instead, we feel it is important that you know your rights and have the information you need to make the right decision for you and your child.

If you recent gave birth and you or your child suffered an injury in the process, it may be wise to speak with a medical malpractice attorney. An experienced lawyer can help you understand if an error was committed.

Source: Mayo Clinic, "Forceps delivery," Mayo Clinic Staff, Accessed June 1, 2015

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