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When the tools used to help during labor actually hurt

One of the reasons that childbirth can be so dangerous for expectant mothers is that the large skull that protects the brain of the baby can make birth painful and challenging. Obstetricians tasked with observing and facilitating birth to protect the well-being of both mother and child sometimes need to intervene during the delivery process to speed things up or reduce the risk of secondary injury for the mother or child. In at least some cases, the actions taken by the physician could potentially endanger their patients.

There are tools that physicians can use to assist during labor and delivery, usually to help facilitate the delivery of an infant’s large head, but those tools can very easily cause injury instead of benefiting mother and child. Pregnant women and their birth partners need to pay close attention to interventions to minimize the risk of harm occurring.

Extraction tools can cause severe birth injuries

The idea that a physician’s manual assistance is necessary for a woman to give labor is often a misconception. With rare exceptions, most women will eventually successfully complete labor. A physician’s attempt to speed up that process can easily cause far more harm than a natural birth would.

Forceps, for example, are rigid tools used to grip, turn and pull an infant to facilitate vaginal birth. Forceps deliveries have a strong association with cuts, bruises and other injuries on the face and neck of the child. They can also cause tearing internally for the woman. More severe injuries possible in the forceps delivery might include eye trauma or damage to the spinal cord or nerves. Vacuum deliveries can cause similar injuries. The pressure can cause damage to the eye or skull of the baby, and the mother is at risk of internal injury as well.

Even an episiotomy, which is the process of cutting the perineum to facilitate birth with less tearing, can actually do more harm than good and could result in severe injury to the child or the mother, particularly if infection sets in after the labor. Both women and their birth partners need to be proactive about communication during labor.

Declining unnecessary interventions, such as the use of assisted delivery simply to speed up the process while neither mother nor child is in distress, can be one way of minimizing the chances of birth injuries. Families that have to cope with either a new mother or her child having completely preventable injuries caused by medical interventions may have numerous expenses, including treatment costs and lost wages.

Pursuing a medical malpractice claim related to birth injuries can both help families cover medical costs and lost wages while simultaneously creating consequences for medical facilities that put convenience ahead of the safety of their patients.