Standing Up For You

Forceps delivery and facial paralysis: What you need to know

Infants can suffer physical injuries during the birth process. Birth trauma may occur due to various factors.

Facial paralysis is a common birth injury resulting from excess pressure on the baby’s face during a forceps or vacuum extraction delivery.

What is facial paralysis?

When damage occurs to an infant’s facial nerve, the baby cannot move some or all of the muscles on the injured side of the face. Facial paralysis can be mild and return to normal in several weeks or permanent if the damage is significant. The newborn may require muscle transfer surgery or nerve grafting to restore facial functioning.

What are the symptoms of newborn facial paralysis?

If the nerves that control babies’ facial muscles sustain injuries or become inflamed, the newborns may be unable to swallow, produce tears, nurse or close their eyes. They may experience drooping mouths, sound sensitivity on one side, excessive drooling or difficulty crying and cooing. These problems can affect children’s eyesight and lead to other health issues. If your doctor did not take reasonable care to prevent harm to your infant’s facial nerves during delivery, you have the legal right to pursue a medical malpractice claim.

How can medical professionals prevent infant facial nerve injuries?

When using forceps to deliver babies, doctors can help prevent facial paralysis by practicing low forceps delivery techniques rather than mid forceps delivery. In a mid forceps birth process, the doctor uses forceps when the baby’s head is higher in the birth canal, resulting in more pulling and pressure, increasing the infant’s risk of injury.

When physicians utilize birthing assistance tools, like forceps, they must use safe and careful procedures to avoid harming the infant. Mistakes can have devastating results, and you deserve to seek justice for your baby.