A hand wearing blue surgical gloves holding forceps.If a mother struggles during delivery, the doctor may use certain tools
to help. Two of these tools are forceps and vacuum extractors. Forceps
are used to help assist the birthing process when the mother is unable
to push the baby out. The forceps are usually placed around the head of
the baby. The vacuum extractor is a soft or hard cup that may be placed
on the top and back of the baby’s head. It provides a suction that
can help assist to pull the baby out.

At Hampton & King, our
Houston birth injury attorneys know that while these tools can be helpful, they can also cause birth
injuries if used incorrectly. Forceps and vacuum extractors have been
used for decades and may be beneficial to some. If the doctor is negligent,
the baby can be harmed, and the injuries sustained can cause lifelong
conditions. Our firm provides a list of birth injuries that can occur
as a result of forceps or vacuum extractors use.

Vacuum Extractors

Despite the consistent use of vacuum extractors for many years, the FDA
has issued warnings that these tools can potentially cause harm to the
health of the baby. There are certain things the doctor must take into
consideration before using vacuum extractors. If the doctor decides to
use a vacuum extractor:

  • The baby should not be too large for the mother’s pelvis
  • The baby should be younger than 34 weeks
  • The baby’s head should be lower in the birth canal
  • The baby should not need repositioning
  • The mother should be dilated fully

Depending on how the vacuum extractor is used by the doctor, the severity
of the birth injury can vary. However, a number of the conditions that
may result from vacuum extractor use require long-term treatment and if
left untreated, can result in death.

Vacuum extractor misuse can cause any of the following injuries:

  • Shoulder dystocia
  • Erb’s palsy
  • Klumpke’s palsy
  • Retinal hemorrhage
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Brain hemorrhage
  • Skull fracture

Injuries caused by vacuum extractors can be prevented if used correctly.
The mother can request that the doctor not use a vacuum extractor and
instead use other tools such as forceps. The symptoms of vacuum extractor
injuries can be serious and may require consistent care of the baby.


When the mother faces issues such as prolonged delivery, maternal exhaustion,
hemorrhage, infection, or illness, the doctor may need to take measures
to help get the baby out. This is often the most common time for the doctor
to rely on forceps. Unfortunately, because of the way they may be used
at times, it can cause serious trauma to both the mother and the baby.

The injuries often caused by forceps use include the following:

Potential Injuries to the Mother

  • Lacerations in the lower genital tract area
  • Tears in the lower genital tract area
  • Urinary and / or fecal continence
  • Anemia
  • Bladder and urethra injuries
  • Perineum pain

Potential Injuries to the Baby

  • Bruising and head swelling
  • Skull fractures
  • Brain damage
  • Facial palsy
  • Facial injuries
  • Seizures

Injuries caused by the negligence of a doctor while using forceps or vacuum
extractors are distressing because they are preventable. They can impact
the baby’s future abilities and require lifelong medical care depending
on the severity.

If your baby was harmed by the use of forceps or vacuum extractors, you
may be able to take legal action against the negligent party. Our Houston
birth injury lawyers at Hampton & King are dedicated to helping our
clients take the necessary action to right the wrongs done to them.
Call today for your free consultation and learn how we can help you.

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