Long-term Effects of Forceps Delivery

By Jason Brady

Close-up newborn baby feet.

While forceps deliveries are generally safe, there is a small risk of complications for both the mother and the baby. Long-term effects of forceps delivery on babies and mothers are rare but can be serious.

What are the long-term side effects of forceps delivery for babies?

Forceps delivery is a type of assisted vaginal birth in which forceps are used to help the baby out of the birth canal. It is a relatively common procedure, performed in around 5-10% of vaginal births.

The most common side effects of forceps delivery are minor and resolve on their own. These include:

  • Bruising and swelling on the baby’s head.
  • Facial palsy (temporary weakness or paralysis of the facial muscles).
  • Subconjunctival haemorrhage (bleeding under the conjunctiva, the clear membrane that covers the white of the eye).
  • Cephalohematoma (a collection of blood between the skull and the scalp).

More serious long-term side effects of forceps delivery can include:

  • Cerebral palsy (neurological disorders which inhibit movement and/or coordination).
  • Epilepsy (seizures).
  • Facial nerve damage.
  • Skull fractures.
  • Intracranial haemorrhage (bleeding inside the skull).

The risk of serious long-term side effects from forceps delivery is very low, but it is important to be aware of the potential risks before deciding about whether to have a forceps delivery.

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What problems can a forceps delivery cause?

In addition to the long-term side effects listed above, forceps delivery can also problems for the mother, including:

  • Vaginal tears: Forceps delivery can increase the risk of vaginal tears, including third and fourth-degree tears. These types of tears can be painful and may require surgery to repair.
  • Urinary incontinence: Forceps deliveries can also damage the nerves that control the bladder, leading to urinary incontinence. This is more likely in women who have already had a previous vaginal delivery or who have a history of bladder problems.
  • Anal incontinence: Forceps delivery can also damage the nerves that control the anal sphincter, leading to anal incontinence.

Blackwater Law successfully represented the family of baby Blake in making a midwife negligence claim after the community midwife failed to notice a severe medical abnormality.

New-born baby in hospital

Can you sue for negligent forceps delivery?

You can sue for negligent forceps delivery if a doctor or midwife makes a mistake during a forceps delivery, and this mistake causes you or your baby to be injured.

To be successful in a forceps delivery claim, you will need to prove that the doctor or midwife breached their duty of care. This means that you will need to show that they did not provide the same standard of care that a reasonable doctor or midwife would have provided in the same circumstances.

If you are able to prove medical negligence, you may be able to claim compensation for any subsequent injuries, as well as for any other losses or expenses that they have incurred as a result.

For free initial advice and support regarding making a no-win, no-fee forceps delivery compensation claim contact Blackwater Law clinical negligence solicitors today.

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