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Are Forceps Safe?

About 400 years ago, a royal surgeon serving the Queen of England had an idea. He invented metal claws, called forceps, that would help babies move through the birth canal and could readjust them if they came out sideways or upside down.

Since that time, forceps have fallen out of style in favor of C-Section and labor-inducing drugs. Now, many new parents find themselves asking whether obstetrical forceps are safe for their baby. To get a better understanding of this problem, let’s look at the evidence.

A Disappearing Art

Forceps are used in just 1% of all US births. New obstetricians often aren’t learning how to use these tools, which can leave them unequipped to deal with a breech birth or other cases where the baby needs assistance.

There are several types of forceps, each with a particular purpose. If a doctor doesn’t know what kind of forceps to use for the situation, they can inadvertently harm the baby. More than that, they need to know the precise positioning and pressure needed to get the baby out without causing an injury.

A Significant Risk

Although Forceps are used in just 1% of US births, forceps-related injuries have risen every year since 2004. These injuries are often severe and may cause lifelong impairment such as brain damage, cerebral palsy, skull fractures, brachial plexus injuries, or even ocular damage, not to mention injuries impacting the mother.

The less often these tools are used, the more these injuries will occur. That may be why the majority of doctors now prefer C-section over forceps. That said, there may be situations where labor stops and a doctor feels they have no choice but to work with unfamiliar tools. That is where the danger lies, not in the tools themselves, but in the skill of those who wield them.

If you suspect your baby suffered a birth injury, we can fight for you. If you’d like to schedule a free case consultation with an experienced Atlanta medical malpractice attorney from The Mabrey Firm, don’t hesitate to give us a call at (404) 814-5098 or send us an email.