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When doctors use forceps to assist with delivery

When it is time for a New Mexico woman to have a baby, she may encounter a number of issues, including the baby getting stuck in the birth canal or the baby showing signs of stress. If this happens, doctors may need to use forceps to assist with the delivery.

Forceps are a tool that can be used to assist a doctor in removing a baby's head through the birth canal. If the doctors determine that forceps are needed, the mother will be provided with a pain blocker, such as an epidural. A plastic cup is placed on the baby's head. During the next contraction, the mother may be asked to push while the doctor assists with delivering the baby's head out of the birth canal using the forceps. Once the baby's head is out of the birth canal, the mother may then push the baby's body out.

There are numerous risks for this assisted delivery method of delivery to both the mother and the baby. The mother may suffer injuries to her genitals and have trouble with urinating or moving her bowels following delivery. The risks for the baby may be more severe and can include injuries to the baby's face, swelling to the head or nerve injuries. Very rarely, the forceps can cause internal bleeding in the baby's head.

Forceps should only be used when necessary. If a doctor uses forceps during a delivery when they were not needed or uses them incorrectly and a birth injury occurs to the baby, the mother may be eligible to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital. Through this lawsuit, the mother may seek to cover any medical costs associated with the baby's recovery from the injury.

Source: Medline Plus, "Assisted delivery with forceps," accessed on Jan. 9, 2015

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