Vacuum Extraction and Birth Injury

The use of invasive medical procedures when delivering a baby is always accompanied by the heightened risk of injury to the mother or child. When all goes well, even a birth with the assistance of medical devices, such as vacuum extractors, can have positive results. Alternatively, the use of these devices and machines in the birthing process can increase the magnitude of any errors a medical practitioner may make, and could potentially leave the child permanently injured.

When Vacuum Extractors are Used

Medical professionals use vacuum extractors, which are plastic cups that are situated on babies’ heads, apply suction in order to help guide the babies through the birth canal.

During a “normal” birthing process, a vacuum extractor would likely not be used. But when the mother is having difficulty delivering the baby or the baby is showing signs of stress, medical professionals may decide that using vacuum extraction is appropriate.

Medical professionals may decide to use vacuum extractors in situations such as:

  • Maternal Fatigue and Prolonged labor – If the labor stalls, and the mother begins to feel fatigued, her attending medical personnel may order the assistance of a vacuum extraction.
  • Fetal distress – Fetal distress is a serious condition in which a baby’s heartbeat becomes unstable, often during the birthing process. Fetal distress can be very dangerous, and medical personnel may order a vacuum extraction in order to help deliver the baby more quickly and get it the medical assistance it needs.
  • Breech birth – A vacuum extraction may be ordered to help in the case that a baby is born in breech presentation, which occurs when he or she is born feet or buttocks first.
  • In lieu of cesarean – Some women cannot give birth though cesarean, for any of a number of reasons. A vacuum extractor can help assist in completing a vaginal delivery.

When Vacuum Aided Birth Should Not Be Used

Though vacuum extractors can be useful, medical professionals tend to shun their use under many circumstances, such as:

  • Mother or baby’s health condition makes vacuum extraction unusually hazardous
  • Baby’s head is too large to fit through birth canal
  • Pregnancy has not reached 34th week
  • Baby’s positioning in the womb is unknown, or is not conducive to vacuum extraction
  • Attending medical personnel do not have the skill or experience needed to execute vacuum extraction.

Potential Consequences of Improper Vacuum Extraction

Improper or negligent use of vacuum extraction during child delivery can result in significant injuries to the baby, including:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Bone fractures
  • Brain injuries and neurological damage
  • Erb’s palsy
  • Head lacerations
  • Nerve damage in the cranium
  • Paralysis
  • Death

Vacuum Aided Delivery and Medical Malpractice

If your baby suffered serious injury during a birth which involved vacuum extraction, your lives and the life of the baby have undoubtedly been permanently affected. The potential negligence of the medical professionals who assisted you may have caused, or contributed to, your child’s condition.

Contact an experienced birth injury attorney today to discuss your pregnancy and deliver, and to learn your legal options.