Forceps Delivery or Ventouse Delivery

What is forceps delivery or Ventouse Delivery?

If the baby becomes distressed during birth, assistance is sometimes needed to pull the baby out and a choice needs to be made between a forceps delivery or a ventouse delivery. By using such instruments it basically mimics a natural vaginal delivery and the purpose of using these tools is to reduce the harm to mother and baby.

A forceps delivery or ventouse delivery may be required when the labour is not progressing as quickly as it should, or there are concerns with the wellbeing of the baby or the mother is unable to push during the birth.

What are the instruments used?

When a decision is taken to use an instrument to assist with the labour the medical professional has a choice of two instruments:

  • Forceps: This is a curved metal instrument which is designed to fit around the baby’s head. They are positioned so that during a contraction the medical professional can gently pull on the baby to help it to be born.
  • Ventouse: This is an instrument is attached to the baby’s head when a contraction occurs and it using suction to enable the medical professional gently pull to deliver the baby. The suction cup leaves a small swelling on the baby’s head, called a chignon. This disappears quickly. The cup may also leave a bruise on the baby’s head, called a cephalhaematoma. A ventouse is not used if the baby is less than 34 weeks as the baby’s head is too soft. A ventouse is less likely to cause vaginal tearing than forceps.

Each method should only be used in specific circumstances and a trained medical professional should know when to use each tool. If the wrong choice is made, scarring can occur to the baby’s head or face and nerves can be damaged causing the face to droop on one side.

If your baby has been injured where forceps or ventouse delivery has been performed there may be a claim for medical negligence.

When does medical negligence occur during forceps delivery or ventouse delivery?

When a decision is taken to utilise instruments such as forceps or ventouse to assist with the delivery of a baby negligence can occur when there is a delay in using such instruments, or when the inappropriate instrument is used for that delivery. Further, it is essential that the medical professional who is using such instruments has appropriate training and skill in order to deliver the baby safely.

If a forceps or ventouse delivery is not performed appropriately then this can result in damage to the mother and the baby.

Injuries to the mother:

  • The position the mother was left in during the labour can cause avoidable complications such as pressure ulcers and DVT
  • Lacerations to the cervix and vagina
  • Increased blood loss
  • Injury to organs such as bladder or damage to the anal sphincter
  • Issues with episiotomy which may be performed in conjunction with an assisted delivery

Injuries to the baby:

  • Injuries to the baby’s skull by either inappropriate instrument being used and not having appropriate training/skill to use the instruments
  • Nerve damage
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Damage to the nerves in the shoulder/arm

Please note that if you are concerned that there were issues during the delivery of your baby when forceps or ventouse instruments were used please contact us today for a free no obligation chat.