Unfortunately, not all pregnancies end with an event-free delivery. There are a variety of ways doctors can assist a mother during a difficult delivery; one of the more frequently used alternatives to a cesarean delivery (C-section) is a vacuum-assisted delivery. Some of the reasons your doctor may recommend the use of a vacuum extractor include:
- Labor Has Stalled: For first time pregnancies, your doctor may recommend an assisted birth if you’ve been pushing for two to three hours, but no progress has been made in the delivery of your child. If this isn’t your first pregnancy, doctors may only wait for one to two hours before recommending an assisted birth.
- Health Concerns: Whether your doctor is concerned for the health of your infant or if they are concerned for the health of the mother, they may recommend an assisted delivery in order to ensure the safety of all parties involved.
Unfortunately, the use of a vacuum extractor to assist with your delivery comes with a certain level of risk. Even if the device is used properly, it can lead to various birth injuries that range from minor injuries that heal by themselves, to far more serious complications that can have long lasting or permanent effects.
- Scalp Wounds: Older vacuum extractors used a metal or rigid suction cup, which could create a cone-shaped swelling on the top of your infant’s head known as a ‘chignon.’ This swelling will generally go away after two or three days, and has become far less common now that more vacuum extractors use Silastic and newer plastic suction cups. There’s also the risk for small cuts or breaks in the skin, especially if the suction cup needs to be reattached multiple times.
Hematoma: Hematomas can form when blood seeps into the surrounding tissue when an
artery or vein is injured. There are two different kinds of hematomas
that can occur during a vaccum-assisted delivery:
- Cephalohematoma: The bleeding remains confined to the space between the periosteum and the skull. A baby with cephalohematoma is unlikely to need surgery or treatment, and the blood will typically go away after one or two weeks.
- Subgaleal Hematoma: This is a far more serious for of bleeding, and occurs when the bleeding causes blood to collect just under the scalp in the subgaleal space. A significant amount of blood can be lost in this area, and can lead to death if not promptly treated.
- Intracranial Hemorrhage: This type of bleeding inside the skull can occur when the suction from the vacuum extractor damages the veins. While rare, intracranial hemorrhaging can lead to loss of speech, movement, and memory.
- Neonatal Jaundice: Jaundice presents itself through the yellowing of the eyes and skin, is common in newborns, and occurs when bilirubin – created when red blood cells break down – reaches high enough levels in the infant’s blood. Vacuum extractors often create large bruises on the infant’s scalp, and as their body reabsorbs the bruise’s blood, it will break down and produce high levels of bilirubin. While jaundice typically goes away by itself in two or three weeks, some infants will need blood transfusions or phototherapy in severe cases.
Birth injuries can have long lasting effects on your child, some that can adversely affect them for the rest of their lives. If your child suffered a birth injury due to the negligence of a medical professional, contact the Law Office of Snyder & Snyder, P.A. today. Our Baltimore birth injury attorneys will fight for you in court or at the negotiation table to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Give us a call at (410) 983-3535, or go to our website to request a free case consultation.