Injuries during labor and delivery remain common. Injuries to the baby during delivery can be caused by vacuum extraction. A vacuum extraction, or vacuum assisted delivery, is a procedure sometimes done during the course of vaginal childbirth. During vacuum extraction, a doctor applies the vacuum — a soft or rigid cup with a handle and a vacuum pump — to the baby's head to help guide the baby out of the birth canal. There are a number of situations where vacuum-assisted delivery may be dangerous and should not be used. Additionally, vacuum extraction can pose a real risk to the baby.
Your healthcare provider may believe that vacuum extraction is necessary if your labor isn’t progressing or has stalled. They may also recommend it if you have a condition that limits your ability to continue pushing. It has been noted that wherever a doctor may believe that vacuum extraction is an option, so too is a C-Section.
There are a number of situations where vacuum assisted delivery is not safe
Vacuum extraction may not be safe in the event of any of the following:
- You're less than 34 weeks pregnant
- Your baby has previously had blood taken from his or her scalp (fetal scalp sampling)
- Your baby has a condition that affects the strength of his or her bones or a bleeding disorder
- Your baby's head hasn't yet moved down far enough in the birth canal
- The position of your baby's head isn't known
- Your has entered the birth canal feet first
- Your baby may be too large to fit through the pelvis
Vacuum extraction can pose significant risk to the baby
Possible risks to your baby include:
- Scalp wounds
- An injury to the network of nerves that sends signals from the spine to the shoulder, arm and hand (brachial plexus)
- Collarbone fracture
- Skull fracture
- Bleeding within the skull or a subgaleal hemorrhage
- Intracranial hemorrhage
Recommendations from the FDA regarding vacuum assisted delivery
Based upon research conducted and analyzing past adverse events, the Food and Drug Administration has issued a number of recommendations with respect to vacuum assisted deliveries. Those recommendations include:
- The healthcare professional using the vacuum should be well versed in their use, and aware of the indications, contraindications and precautions with use of the vacuum.
- The doctor using the vacuum should be knowledgeable about proper cup placement, the vacuum strength to be used, cumulative duration of applications and number of recommended extraction attempts.
- The doctor using the vacuum should apply steady traction. Rocking movements or applying torque to the device may be dangerous.
- Those responsible for the infant’s care must be alerted that a vacuum assisted delivery device has been used.
- Educate the neonatal care staff about the complications of vacuum assisted delivery and instruct them to watch for the signs of these complications in any infant in whom a vacuum assisted delivery device was used.
If your baby has suffered a birth injury including subgaleal hemorrhage or other bleeding injuries, Chelsie King Garza can help. Contact Chelsie King Garza, P.C. to discuss your options.