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What Florida Parents Need to Know About Use of Forceps During Delivery


For decades, forceps have been used in connection with vaginal deliveries to help guide the baby out of the birth canal. Still, the device is somewhat controversial, and has been associated with increased risk of birth injuries. A Florida birth injury attorney can provide more information if you or your baby was harmed through misuse, but there are a few details you should note.

  1. How Forceps Work: The device itself looks similar to salad tongs, though the spoons are larger and curved. The design allows the forceps to fit around the infant’s head and cradle it, in an effort to maneuver the fetus during a difficult labor. To summarize proper use, a health care provider would typically apply the forceps and use slight pressure to ease the baby’s body through the birth canal.
  1. Why Health Care Providers May Employ Forceps During Delivery: Your doctor may suggest use of the forceps during the second phase of labor, when you’re actively pushing and contractions are consistent – but, for whatever reason, the baby isn’t coming out. Factors that may lead a physician to recommend forceps include:
  • Labor is prolonged and you’ve made no progress after a designated amount of time
  • You’re exhausted and don’t have the physical energy to push
  • There are indications of fetal stress or irregular heartbeat
  • You’re suffering from health issues that make it difficult for you to continue pushing

Note that Florida’s Medical Consent Law requires your physician to obtain your informed consent to use forceps in most situations.

  1. Benefits of Forceps Use: For many parents, the primary advantage to using forceps during vaginal delivery is to avoid a C-section. Resorting to this surgery during the second stage of labor is very different than making the decision at some point during pregnancy. There are more challenges because the baby is in the birth canal – not in the uterus where the C-section incision would be positioned. Other benefits of forceps, when used properly, include:
  • Physicians are better able to shift the baby’s head when the position prevents a smooth delivery
  • Delivery may be faster with forceps as compared to a C-section, as this procedure requires taking the mother to an operating room, transferring her to the operating table, and inducing anesthesia – all while in labor
  1. Risk Factors and Medical Errors in Using Forceps: When used improperly, there can be serious injuries to the mother, the baby, or both. The physician may apply too much pressure, which can cause tearing of the woman’s vagina, rectum, or urethra. The baby may sustain minor facial bruising, but more serious injuries may include skull fractures, bleeding within the skull, and brain damage.

Plus, there are situations that contradict usage of forceps, meaning that your doctor could be making a critical error by recommending the procedure – or by waiting too long to recognize the need for an emergency C-section. 

Discuss Forceps Misuse or Errors with a Florida Birth Injury Lawyer 

If your doctor improperly used forceps or used them without your informed consent, you may have rights regarding the injuries to you and your baby. For more information, please contact Freidin Brown, P.A. to set up a free consultation at our offices in Miami or Fort Myers, FL.


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