Use and Misuse of Forceps During Childbirth in Oregon

Improper Use of Forceps Causing a Birth Injury misuse of forceps

Birth Injuries in Oregon Due to Misuse of Forceps 

There are some things you cannot prepare for in life. One of them may be that forceps need to be used on your baby when you give birth. You have to make a split-second decision about, quite possibly, the person you will care about the most in life. It is easier to weigh out the rewards and risks with some things, but this is different. You need to know the risks, how high those risks are, and much more. Contact our Portland birth injury attorney to talk about these risks and how we can help you after the misuse of forceps causes your loved one serious personal injuries.

What are Forceps?

Operative vaginal delivery, or forceps and vacuum extraction, are not very common nowadays. For example, it was reported in 2020 that recently, only 1.1 percent of childbirths take place with the use of forceps. 

Forceps are used during vaginal childbirth, to assist the mother in delivering her baby. Forceps themselves are an instrument shaped like large salad tongs. The forceps are applied by a medical provider, who places them on the baby’s head. Once placed on the baby’s head, the provider uses the forceps to guide the baby out of the birth canal. Forceps are not used to pull the baby out—rather, they are used when the mother is experiencing a contraction, when the forceps can assist with guiding the baby out, while the mother continues to push. 

When Forceps Are Used

Although rare, today, forceps are used in a variety of instances. Usually, these instances are during the second phase of labor, because that is when the cervix is fully dilated and the mother is pushing. These instances are as follows:

  • Labor is not advancing—it is past a certain point where not enough progress has been made. This may be when it is a mother’s first attempt at vaginal delivery or when she is a first-time mother. Medical providers have different timelines for different patients, and also factor in how many epidurals have been given.
  • Immediate delivery is required—this can be for numerous reasons, but one is that the baby’s heart rate has changed and is in danger. A fetal monitor can determine this. Removing the baby from that position as soon as possible is necessary.
  • Pushing time needs to be limited—sometimes because the mother has certain medical conditions, such as heart disease or high blood pressure, she cannot push as long as usually needed
  • Mother is exhausted—some mothers may simply say they can no longer push and deliver on their own, and without assistance

When Forceps Should Not Be Used

Conversely, there are several times when forceps should not be used. They are as follows:

  • Location of the baby’s head cannot be determined
  • Baby has a bone strength condition, such as osteogenesis imperfecta
  • Baby has a bleeding disorder, such as hemophilia
  • Baby’s shoulder or arms are leading through the birth canal
  • Baby’s head has not moved past the midpoint of the birth canal
  • Baby may not be able to fit through the mother’s pelvis because of the baby’s size or the mother’s size

If you have a question about a birth injury your baby sustained during delivery because of the use of forceps, contact our Portland birth injury attorney so we can determine whether you may have a claim.

Risks and Misuses of Forceps

As with many, if not all, birth procedures, there are serious risks to both you and your baby, if a medical provider fails to provide proper care. Many of these risks are the same or similar to those associated with regular vaginal delivery. The chance that the risk could occur is increased with the use of forceps, though. Risks to the mother include:

  • Uterine rupture—uterine wall is torn and the baby and placenta could be pushed into the mother’s abdominal cavity
  • External trauma to the eye or eyes 
  • Bladder or urethra injuries—urethra is the tube that connects the bladder to the outside of the body
  • Pelvic organ prolapse—weakening of pelvic muscles and ligaments, which further leads to the pelvic organs dropping lower in the pelvis
  • Perineum pain—tissue between vagina and anus. Consequently, your medical provider may have to perform an episiotomy, which is an incision of this tissue, before using the forceps.

Risks to the baby include:

  • Skull fracture
  • Skull bleeding—this is very serious
  • Seizures
  • Facial palsy—temporary weakness in facial muscles that may cause droopiness. This typically goes away within a few days to weeks.
  • Facial injuries, typically minor, and they may disappear after a few days or weeks

Ask our Birth Injury Lawyer in Oregon For Help After Forceps Injuries

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured or killed as a result of medical malpractice contact the Oregon Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Kuhlman Law at our number below or fill out the intake form.  We offer a free initial case evaluation and handle cases on a contingency fee which means that you pay no money unless we recover.

Our law firm handles cases throughout the state including Bend and Portland Oregon, Redmond, Central Oregon, Sisters, Madras, Multnomah County, Deschutes County, Salem, Eugene, Corvallis, Lane County, Medford, Gresham, La Grande, Albany, Medford, Beaverton, Umatilla, Pendleton,  Cottage Grove, Florence, Oregon City, Springfield, Keizer, Grants Pass, McMinnville, Tualatin, West Linn, Forest Grove, Wilsonville, Newberg, Roseburg, Lake Oswego, Klamath Falls, Happy Valley, Tigard, Ashland, Milwakie, Coos Bay, The Dalles,  St. Helens, Sherwood, Central Point, Canby, Troutdale, Hermiston, Silverton, Hood River, Newport, Prineville, Astoria, Tillamook, Lincoln City, Hillsboro, and Vancouver, Washington.

We also have an office in Minneapolis, Minnesota and take medical malpractice cases throughout the Twin Cities, including St. Paul, Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Dakota County, Washington County, Anoka County, Scott County, Blaine, Stillwater, and Saint Paul Minnesota.

For a free case evaluation


(541) 385-1999 in Bend, Oregon
(503) 479-3646 in Portland, Oregon
(612) 444-3374 in Minnesota

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