If your obstetrician discusses some of the possibilities for the delivery of your baby, you may wonder, “Can you refuse forceps delivery?” You can tell the doctor that you do not want this tool used on your baby during the delivery process.
However, if an emergency occurs during the birthing process, the doctor may believe that the only way to allow for the safest possible delivery is to use forceps. In this case, it is possible that the doctor will still choose to use them.
If you can communicate with the doctor during the birthing process when an emergency arises, he or she may ask you if you want to allow the use of forceps. You may be able to request a Cesarean section birth instead if you prefer. Your birth partner may be able to answer on your behalf if you cannot answer.
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The Use of Forceps During Childbirth
A pair of forceps is an instrument that an obstetrician may use during the vaginal delivery of a baby. This tool looks similar to a pair of tongs, allowing the physician to guide the baby’s head through the birth canal.
The doctor may choose to use forceps if the baby is not progressing through the birth canal as expected. Delays during this portion of a vaginal birth can be especially dangerous to the baby, as it can lead to a lack of oxygen, potentially causing brain damage.
Choosing to Deploy Forceps
If choosing to deploy forceps, the doctor must be certain of several conditions:
- Mother’s cervix is fully dilated
- Baby’s head is engaged
- Baby’s head size is not too large to fit through the birth canal
- Baby’s gestation period is not less than 34 weeks
- No signs of disorders or diseases in the baby
Finally, the physician must have the skill and experience with using forceps. Before you give the doctor permission to use forceps in your delivery, you may want to ask about his or her experience with this tool.
Potential Dangers of Forceps
If the doctor does not use the forceps properly, the baby could suffer an injury. This is one of the reasons why some pregnant women request that the doctor not use forceps in the delivery of the baby.
Some of the injuries that could occur during the use of forceps include:
- Uneven pressure applied to either side of the head.
- Excessive pressure causing a skull fracture.
- Excessive twisting of the neck.
- Trauma to the eyes.
- Facial injuries.
- Brain or nerve damage.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the number of live births that make use of forceps has dropped significantly in recent years. In 1990, 5.11% of births involved forceps. By 2000, this number dropped to 2.07%. In 2015, only 0.56% of births in the United States involved forceps.
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Long-Term Trauma from Birth Injuries
In the United States in 2017, the infant mortality rate was 5.79 per 1,000 live births, according to the CDC. Not all of these deaths occurred because of the misuse of forceps, but unintentional injuries and accidents during the birthing process rank among the top five reasons for infant deaths.
Even if the baby survives his or her injuries during the birthing process, there could be long-term difficulties. If the doctor makes a mistake while using forceps in the birthing process, some potential problems include:
- Hematoma, where blood from the injury pools around the brain, causing pressure on the brain that eventually damages the cells.
- Hydrocephalus, where the brain injury causes fluid to build up around the brain, and the swelling can result in significant long-term health problems.
- Intracranial hemorrhage, where a blood vessel inside the brain bursts, leading to bleeding inside the brain.
Any of these injuries could lead to a long-term disability, such as cerebral palsy.
Holding a Negligent Doctor Responsible
While you can refuse forceps delivery, the doctor may choose to deploy this tool in an emergency. He or she may either go against your wishes or decide on your behalf if you are unable to answer for yourself while giving birth.
If you believe the doctor made a mistake in choosing to use forceps on your baby, and you believe the use of this tool resulted in an injury or brain damage for your newborn, you have the right to seek damages in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
At the Birth Injury Lawyers Group, our team is ready to defend your right to receive compensation for your family’s pain, suffering, and medical bills. We can study the facts in your case and help you hold the doctor who caused your baby’s injuries accountable for his or her actions. For a free case review, contact us at (800) 222-9529 today.