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Maternity Negligence Forceps Delivery

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Birth Injury compensation claims by delivery by forceps can be made if negligence or blame is established. During child-birth it may be reasonable to assist the delivery by using forceps (surgical instrument that resembles a pair of tongs). Usually this is a step taken because the baby is distressed and needs to be delivered urgently. However if forceps are used at the wrong time or used incorrectly/negligently then it can cause scarring to the child’s face which can be permanent. There could also be nerve damage causing facial paralysis. If injury has been caused as a result of delivery by forceps then you may be entitled to claim compensation for maternity negligence.

The method of using the forceps to assist in the delivery of the child is by placing the open end of the forceps around the infant’s head to help guide the baby out during the mother’s contractions. Most physicians acknowledge that sometimes there is a risk of forceps delivery injury, but if there are other problems during labour and delivery, they may turn to forceps for assistance.

When do doctors use forceps?

The most common reason for using forceps to assist in the maternal delivery process is when the mother is unable to push the baby out alone. This can happen for a variety of reasons including maternal exhaustion, a prolonged second stage of delivery, illness or infection, haemorrhage, or when drugs keep the mother from being able to push the baby out successfully. Fetal factors that indicate the use of forceps include a breach birth delivery (a delivery of a baby which is so positioned in the womb that the buttocks or feet are delivered first) or a troublesome reading in the fetal heart tracing. Often these factors (both fetal and maternal) are time emergent and doctors justify the use of forceps in emergency situations.

What are the risks of using forceps?

When the forceps are used, both the mother and baby are at risk of injury and if negligence or blame can be established, a birth injury or maternity negligence claim may be made:

Maternal risks include:

  • Tears and lacerations in the lower genital tract area
  • Faecal and/or urinary continence
  • Perineum Pain (the area between the anus and the scrotum or vulva)
  • Anaemia (a condition in which there is a deficiency of red cells or of haemoglobin in the blood, resulting in pallor and weariness)
  • Bladder injuries
  • Urethra injuries

Infant risks include:

  • Facial palsy and facial injuries
  • Bruising and swelling on the head
  • Skull fractures
  • Seizures
  • Brain damage


In most instances, the symptoms of a forceps injury are straightforward, such as lacerations or bruising. Other symptoms of forceps injury can include a misshapen head, nerve damage, skull fractures, and haemorrhages (brain bleeds).  For information on child brain injuries generally please visit the following page: child brain injury claims.


Injuries induced as a result of the negligent use of the forceps should be taken seriously. It is important for parents to get a baby’s head and brain checked for a number of related birth injuries that may pose serious health issues, including: seizure disorders, strokes, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (a form of brain damage that occurs when an infant’s brain doesn’t receive enough oxygen and blood) and also cerebral palsy.

The parents’ choice

Physicians not only have the responsibility to ensure that a mother and her infant are as safe as possible during a forceps procedure, but they are also obligated to inform her of the risks. It’s a common misconception that parents do not have a choice of the physicians using forceps or not, but if they feel uncomfortable, they can always recommend to refrain from carrying out the procedure.

Compensation for maternity negligence claims & Forcepts Delivery

We appreciate that is it a difficult for parents to sue the experts but things can go wrong.  We are not all perfect.  The long term damage to the baby and family can be emotionally and physically demanding.  A maternity negligence claim, often called a birth injury claim can be made against the Hospital concerned if it is believed that there is a negligence claim for compensation for the birth injury in this case Cerabal Palsy.

Please contact us now if you wish to consider make a birth injury claim for forceps delivery.

Further Reading on Clinical Negligence Compensation Claims:

Birth Injury Compensation – Injury to Baby Forceps Delivery

Maternity Negligence Claims

NHS Cerebral Palsy

Birth Injury Guide – Cerebral Palsy

Author Ikram Miah, Para-Legal specialising in clinical medicine.

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