Birthing injuries involving forceps are on the rise in Canada

Childbirth is an unforgettable experience, but also a risky moment in a woman’s life, even in a country like Canada where doctors have access to advanced medical technology. As obstetrical malpractice lawyers can attest, medical errors or omissions during childbirth can cause injuries that have serious, long-lasting impacts on a mother or child.

A study published recently in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that injuries during childbirth are on the rise in Canada, especially among deliveries involving forceps.  The study included almost two-million one-baby deliveries occurring in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario between 2004 and 2015.

The Mayo Clinic describes forceps as “an instrument shaped like a pair of large spoons or salad tongs.” They are used in operative vaginal deliveries where certain problems exist, such as stalled labour, heartbeat issues, or the baby facing the wrong direction. The benefits of forceps deliveries include reduced delivery times and avoiding Caesarian-section (C-section).

However, there are also risks, and the risks are growing. The authors of the Canadian Medical Association Journal study declared that their findings suggest “the safety of the procedures is declining in Canada, especially after forceps use.” In 2004, 19.4 per cent of first-time mothers suffered birthing injuries during forceps- or vacuum-assisted delivery; in 2014, 26.5 per cent did. Women with previous C-sections saw an even steeper climb, with just 17 per cent experiencing injuries in 2004 and 26 per cent experiencing them in 2014.

Trauma to babies also increased but remained relatively rare: the study reported 4.5 injuries per 1,000 deliveries in 2004 and 6.8 injuries per 1,000 deliveries in 2014.

The most common injuries to mothers were third- and fourth-degree perineal tears; babies most commonly suffered brachial plexus injuries.

Increasing injury rates have prompted doctors and obstetrical malpractice lawyers in Canada and around the world to suggest changes. In Australia, some experts have called for a ban on forceps use, while some American hospitals already prohibit it. As C-section deliveries become increasingly common – a third of babies are now delivered by C-section – young doctors will have fewer and fewer chances to become comfortable with the practice. According to the National Post, a 2007 study found that only about half of American residency program graduates felt competent using forceps.

If your family has been affected by a birthing injury involving the use of forceps, contact the obstetrical malpractice lawyers at Will Davidson LLP today to find out how we can help. Our experienced team of personal injury and medical malpractice lawyers can explain your legal options and guide you on your path to compensation and recovery.


Image credit: Gilberto Santa Rosa/Wikimedia Commons

My Child Was Injured During Childbirth – Do I Have a Case?


Childbirth is among the most meaningful and memorable moments in a person’s life; it is also a time of significant vulnerability, both for the mother and her child. Though most birthing injuries are fairly mild and do not cause long-term impairment, a serious birthing injury can have devastating, lifelong impacts. If you believe your child has been injured due to the errors of a medical professional, contact a birthing injury lawyer at Will Davidson LLP today for help.

Causes of birth trauma

There are several reasons why a birthing injury may occur, most of them natural or purely accidental. For instance, particularly large babies, especially those weighing more than 4,000 grams (8 pounds, 3 ounces) are susceptible to injury. So, too, are premature babies – those born before 37 weeks of pregnancy – due to their underdeveloped and fragile bodies.

Other factors like awkward fetal positioning or the size and shape of the mother’s pelvis can cause problems.

In some cases, birth trauma is caused or contributed to by the errors or negligence of medical professionals. It is in these instances that malpractice may have occurred and the injured family may have grounds to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Forms of birth trauma

Birthing injuries come in many forms and vary widely in severity. Swelling, bruising, and cuts are all particularly common, especially in births involving vacuum extractors or forceps. These are unlikely to have long-lasting impacts.

Other relatively common injuries include cephalohematoma, where bleeding occurs beneath the child’s cranial bones; subconjunctival hemorrhage, when small blood vessels in the baby’s eyes break; facial paralysis caused by pressure on the face during birth; and fractures, most often to the clavicle or collarbone.

Brachial plexus injuries are perhaps the most common form of serious muscle-related birth trauma. The brachial plexus is a group of nerves that supplies a person’s arms and hands. Injuries to the grouping most often occur when there is difficulty delivering a baby’s shoulders. In cases where the plexus is bruised or swollen, the baby may temporarily lose the ability to flex and rotate its arms; if the nerves are torn, the paralysis can be permanent.

Many of the most serious birth traumas are caused by the deprivation of oxygen to a child’s brain, known as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). This injury is believed to cause more than 800,000 neonatal deaths per year, globally, and can stem from a wide range of causes, including brain or skull trauma, infections, prolonged late stages of labor, and umbilical cord accidents or issues. HIE can result in epilepsy, developmental delays, motor impairment, neurodevelopmental delays, cognitive impairments, and in rare cases Cerebral Palsy.

Should I consult a birthing injury lawyer?

If your child has suffered a birthing injury that you believe was caused by the errors or negligence of a medical professional, contacting an experienced birthing injury lawyer should be a top priority. However, not all medical errors are ground for a malpractice case. In Canada, medical malpractice has not occurred unless the error or omission would not have been made by another medical professional in a similar situation.

If medical malpractice has occurred, a birthing injury lawyer at Will Davidson LLP may be able to help you access compensation. Call us today at 1-800-661-7606 to arrange a no-obligation consultation and learn how we can help.


Injuries in childbirth can be devastating. Here’s how an experienced birthing injury lawyer can help.

For most parents, discovering they will be welcoming a new child into their lives is an exciting and joyous time. They endlessly prepare their homes and their hearts to ensure everything is just right when the new member of their family comes along.

Few people expect the birthing process to be easy, of course. But fewer still anticipate the prospect of birthing complications, from cuts and bruises to life-threatening injuries, which can impact the health of both mother and child. If you or your spouse has suffered an injury during childbirth, consider contacting a birthing injury lawyer at Will Davidson LLP today.

What is a birth injury?

Birthing injuries can be divided into two distinct categories:

Birth defects: Birth defects are caused by a prenatal condition or action, such as genetic defects or maternal drug use. They manifest in a variety of ways, including down syndrome, congenital heart defects, and physical malformations.[1]

Birth Injuries: Birth injuries, on the other hand, occur during the actual birthing process. While most injuries are minor (bruises, small lacerations, etc…) and often resolve themselves, some can be more severe. For example, birth injuries can lead to brain hemorrhaging, nerve injuries, and perinatal asphyxia, which can result in permanent developmental disorders. [2]

In the United States alone, approximately 28,000 children suffer birthing injuries each year.[3] However, the distinction between birth injuries and birth defects is not always clear cut. It can be difficult to tell if a child’s developmental disorder is the result of the birthing process or a pre-existing genetic condition, which is why families who have endured this tragic experience should contact an experienced birthing injury lawyer before considering a legal claim.

What are the consequences of a birthing injury?

Birthing injuries can have a staggering impact on an individual or a family’s quality of life. To begin with, they can cause serious developmental disorders, like cerebral palsy, in affected children. Parents must face not only the emotional consequences of these injuries, but also cope with the financial challenges that come with caring for a disabled child. Between healthcare, physical therapy, counseling, and wages lost to providing care, birthing injuries can take a powerful financial toll on families.

If you believe your child has suffered a birth injury, there may be benefits to initiating a lawsuit. Contact a birthing injury lawyer at Will Davidson LLP to better understand how a lawsuit could help recoup past, ongoing, and future medical expenses; lost wages; and damages for pain and suffering or emotional harm.

In cases where the injury is a result of negligent medical practices, a successful birthing injury lawsuit can also act as a deterrent against future similar events. By initiating a personal injury claim, you may be sparing other parents your difficult experiences.

How do I bring a successful lawsuit?

Birth injury lawsuits require demonstrating that a medical practitioner or individual responsible for the birthing process owed you a duty of care which was breached in a negligent manner, and that this negligence resulted in an injury to your child. This can be a difficult process for several reasons.

First, it is not always easy to distinguish between a birth injury and a birth defect. As such, expert opinions supporting your claim are crucial to building a viable case against an obstetrician.

Second, proving the negligence of a medical practitioner can be an onerous task, one which requires obtaining and carefully examining many pages of medical records.

Due to these challenges, it is important to retain an experienced medical malpractice or birthing injury lawyer who can effectively build a strong case for you.

 I think my child may have suffered injuries during the birthing process. What do I do next?

If the birthing process has left your child with a developmental disorder or serious injury, there is a possibility that he or she may have suffered a birth injury. An experienced birthing injury lawyer from Will Davidson LLP can help assess your case and get you the results you deserve. Call us today to schedule your no-obligation consultation.




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