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Birth trauma risks of vacuum extraction

At the Law Office of Robert A. Miller in Oregon, we know that the birth of a child is one of the happiest experiences of your life. Sometimes, however, a baby encounters difficulties when moving through the birth canal and the doctor recommends using a vacuum extractor or forceps to aid the delivery. While these devices are safe when used correctly, if they are used incorrectly or with excessive force, you and your baby can sustain injuries.

As the Mayo Clinic explains, a vacuum extraction may be indicated if you cannot push your baby out of the birth canal, if his or her heartbeat is problematic, or if you yourself have certain health conditions. This procedure, however, is not your only option in these situations; a C-section is also a viable option.


Vacuum extraction is contraindicated under several conditions, including the following:

  • Your pregnancy has not progressed beyond the 34th week.
  • Your baby has undergone fetal scalp sampling.
  • The position of your baby’s head is unknown or has not moved past your birth canal’s midpoint.
  • Your baby is not head first in your birth canal.
  • Your baby is large enough that he or she may not be able to fit through your pelvis.

Possible risks of vacuum extraction

Vacuum extraction poses injury risks to your baby, including a skull fracture, a scalp wound, bleeding within his or her skull, and an injury to his or her collarbone or brachial plexux. Vacuum extraction also poses risks to you, including tears and/or wounds to your lower genital tract, short- or long-term fecal or urinary incontinence, anemia due to blood loss during delivery, perineum pain after delivery, and the weakening of your muscles and/or ligaments that support your pelvic organs. This weakening could lead to pelvic organ prolapse. For more information on this subject, please visit this page on our website.