"Complications during child birth, such as a large baby, a breech position, or prolonged labor, sometimes require the use of forceps to safely deliver the baby. However, if proper medical procedures are not followed while using forceps, birth injuries such as nerve or brain damage can result. Forceps use in childbirth is permissible when the baby appears to be in fetal distress, when the mother is having trouble pushing, or when the positioning of the baby in the birth canal is incorrect. The structure of the forceps allow them to clamp on the sides of the baby's head, giving the doctor a steady grip but also putting the baby at risk for damage if the procedure is performed improperly.
"If done correctly, a forceps delivery can save the baby's life or prevent it becoming severely hypoxic, or oxygen deprived. If an infant goes without oxygen for too long, severe and permanent brain damage can occur. Likewise, use of forceps might be the only way to deliver the child or protect its head because of improper positioning. Because of the vulnerability of a baby's skull, it is extremely important to care for the head. If a doctor does not take necessary steps to shelter the skull, brain damage can result.
"Conversely, forceps delivery can also hurt the baby, sometimes permanently. Some degree of force is always employed in forceps delivery so risk is inherent in the procedure. Specific dangers include facial nerve damage, skull fractures, and cerebral palsy. Babies are not the only parties at risk for complications during forceps births. Mothers face increased risks for lacerations, urinary tract infections, and rectum injuries.
"The most severe risks of forceps deliveries to babies include facial nerve damage and cerebral palsy. With facial nerve damage, permanent facial asymmetry may occur, especially evident when the child laughs or cries. Cerebral Palsy develops when damage to the cerebrum of the brain occurs, resulting in motor control difficulties. Although it is a non-progressive disorder, meaning the brain damage does worsen with age, there is no known cure. Cerebral Palsy is considered the second most expensive developmental disability to manage over the course of a lifetime, with the average lifetime cost nearing about $921,000. Its exact cause is not known but it is almost always linked with birth trauma, including improper forceps delivery, as well as hypoxia, premature birth, multiple births, and certain infections in the mother both before and after birth" (Devine, Joseph, "Forceps Delivery Birth Injuries," ezinearticles.com)
I was a ten-pound baby with wide shoulders and my doctor had to use forcepts to pull me out; however, he was skilled enough to do it without causing much damage. "Forceps used with delivery can leave temporary marks or bruises on the baby's face and head. Babies delivered by vacuum extraction may have some scalp bruising or a scalp laceration (cut)." I found this quote on the webpage of a lawyer who handles brain injury lawsuits. I did suffer some scalp bruising that eventually became a knot in the back of my head that sometimes gets abscesses on it now that I neutralize with Vitamin E oil.
The damage occurred on the part of my skull where the parietal lobe of the brain is located and has resulted in some minor vision and spatial problems."Organs such as ears and eyes may be working perfectly well, but the part of the brain which makes sense of incoming information from these sources may not be working properly. This gives rise to several different types of difficulty.
"Problems in judging distances, spatial relationships and orientation can mean, for example, that a person may bump into furniture that they have seen, but have misjudged where it is in relation to themselves.
"Sometimes a person will have a problem where one side of whatever they are looking at is not seen (visual neglect). A person may only eat half the food on their plate, or read only halfway the across the page. The ability to recognise something viewed from a different or unusual angle can be lost. This can also apply to sounds as well as vision.
"Building objects or drawing them from component parts such as coloured block may be very hard" (www.headway.org.uk).
I'm always bumping into furniture and cannot drive due to a lack of peripheral vision, but do not suffer from visual neglect or the more extreme deficits.
I credit my country physician, Dr. Wade, who delivered me in my grandparents' home with having no more damage to my skull than I have and no internal brain damage as a result of the forceps birth.
Working with intellectually disabled people for the past twenty-one years, I have seen numerous victims of brain damage caused by forceps births. While my "bump" can be a nuisance and those little abscesses hurt, I am so grateful that I was delivered by a doctor who knew what he was doing.
I will be 58 years-old Wednesday, September 23, and although I can't drive, I lead an otherwise normal life that is full of wonder, joy, love and adventure. I would never have had any of that were it not for Dr. Wade. The last time I saw him was when I had a medical exam before entering college in 1969, and he advised me to go into dentistry when I told him I was majoring in nursing.
That was good advice, but I left the medical profession at the first sight of a substantial amount of blood. I have no regrets. My first degree was in English and since then I've gotten a masters degree in education and a specialist degree in special education. Along the way, I've written plays, poems, songs, a novel, several curriculum guides, and a couple of spiritual guides.
It's been a great 58 years thanks to Dr. Wade.