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Forceps delivery injury and complication claims

A forceps delivery is usually a straightforward and safe procedure, but for some, a forceps delivery can cause serious injury and complications to both mother and baby.

Last Updated November 8th, 2023.

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Key points for making an injury claim

The most important things to remember when claiming for forceps injuries

  • You typically need to start your claim within three years of the date of the forceps injury
  • Medical professionals have a duty of care to patients; if this is breached, you may be able to claim compensation
  • Worried about the financial risks of bringing a claim? Choose a no win no fee solicitor like Express Solicitors
  • Medical records and witness statements are vital evidence to prove negligence
  • You can claim against the NHS or private medical professional

What is a forceps delivery complication claim?

It’s a claim made following a negligent forceps delivery. If the mother or baby experiences injury during a forceps delivery, they could claim medical negligence. This can include physical or psychological injury to the mother and significant physical injury to the baby.

Forceps or ventouse (vacuum cup) are assisted deliveries used to help deliver the baby if labour has not progressed or if there is a medical need to quickly deliver the baby, such as if the baby is in distress.

Forceps or ventouse or an ‘assisted delivery’ happens in 1 in 8 UK births and are usually considered safe. But sometimes, forceps delivery can be negligent and cause injury to the baby and the mother.

Why make a claim for forceps injuries and complications?

Forceps delivery injuries can cause distress to the mother and the baby, making it difficult to recover. But making a claim for forceps injuries or complications can help the claimant access the best treatment, giving them a better chance of a full recovery.

The compensation you win can help cover travel costs for medical appointments, psychological trauma, medical equipment, rehabilitation and future loss of earnings.

By making a medical negligence claim, an investigation can highlight issues with forceps deliveries helping prevent the same issues from reoccurring.

Speak to our specialist no win no fee solicitors today about your rights to claim compensation.

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How much compensation will I receive?

The amount of compensation you receive will depend on the severity of your injuries, the type of injuries and if they’re long-lasting.

Other factors that affect the compensation awarded include the treatment and rehabilitation required, travel costs for medical visits and the level of psychological trauma experienced.

What are the side effects of forceps delivery?

Although generally safe, and aside from the psychological effects following a forceps delivery, an assisted birth can also cause injury to the baby’s head. Leaving marks, small cuts or bruising on the baby’s face from the forceps or the ventouse cup.

The baby can also develop jaundice, which is the yellowing of the eyes and/or skin, a condition caused by the breakdown of blood cells, which releases bilirubin, causing the skin to look yellow.

What are common forceps delivery complications?

As with any assisted delivery method, there are risks associated with forceps delivery, which sometimes means there are delivery complications. Common risks can include bruises or marks on the baby. Uncommon risks that are more severe include brain injuries and vaginal tears.

Permanent medical injuries can be considered birth injury negligence, and you may be entitled to compensation.

These risks are usually explained to the mother before proceeding, and the mother must give their consent to the procedure. If staff have not obtained consent, this could also be cause for a compensation claim.

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That’s right, we provide unlimited legal support for our prospective clients. Not sure if you have a claim, or if you even want to make a claim? You can speak with us for as long as you like and as many times as you like. We’ll let you know your legal rights, completely free of charge and with no obligation to make a claim.

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Forceps birth injury and risks to the mother

Having forceps comes with risks to the mother as well as the baby. Injuries the mother can sustain include:

  • 3rd and 4th degree tearing
  • Episiotomy
  • Urinary and anal incontinence
  • Blood loss and blood clots

3rd and 4th degree tearing

Third-degree tearing includes tearing of the vaginal muscle wall and into the anal sphincter. A fourth-degree tear includes tearing to the anal sphincter and into the mucous membrane that lines the rectum.


An episiotomy is a small cut made through the vaginal muscle to help get the baby out quicker. Having an episiotomy can help prevent tearing but will require stitches.

Urinary and anal incontinence

During any birth, but particularly during instrumental deliveries, damage can be done to the pelvic floor muscles and the anal muscles. This can sometimes lead to incontinence.

Blood loss and blood clots

Anything over 500ml of blood lost is a haemorrhage. Bleeding can occur from the uterus not contracting properly, which is called uterine atony. Blood clots can be passed after birth, if large clots are passed in the 24 hours after birth, these are symptoms of primary postpartum haemorrhage.

All of these forceps injuries usually heal without problems or need for further interventions. But in some cases, they may lead to long-term conditions.

Forceps birth injury and risks to the baby

Babies born with forceps can experience minor risks such as facial bruising, marks or small cuts and swelling. These usually disappear within the first few days of life.

Some severe risks can include facial palsy, skull fractures, bleeding inside the skull, cerebral palsy, seizures and nerve damage.

Some babies can experience the above forceps birth injuries temporarily, but others can be lifelong, like cerebral palsy.

The claim process

We are completely transparent with our clients. Not only do you know exactly how we’re representing you, you’ll also know exactly where you are in the claim process.


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We’ll use our experience and expertise to build the strongest legal argument for your claim.

Supporting your claim

Including medical assessments to ensure your claim is valued correctly.


We negotiate the maximum amount of compensation for you, representing you in court if needed.

Is forceps delivery brain damage possible?

Although forceps delivery is generally safe, in rare circumstances, it can cause brain damage. This damage can lead to cerebral palsy, which is a long-term and life-limiting condition.

Babies usually show symptoms of cerebral palsy in the first three years of life, with some symptoms noticeable in babies a few months old. Symptoms can include developmental milestone delays, muscle spasms, and walking on tiptoes. Read about more symptoms here.

If the baby develops cerebral palsy, you are entitled to make a claim for compensation.

Is there a time limit for making a forceps delivery claim?

If the mother is injured, they have three years to make a forceps delivery claim. If the child has been injured, a claim can be made up until they turn 18 years old. After this period has passed, they have three years to bring a claim.

If the victim has a reduced mental capacity, there is often no time limit on where a claim can be made.

How Express Solicitors can help

Whether you’re looking to submit a claim or you’re just in need of some advice, we can help you. We have over 1,000 years of combined experience and have demonstrable experience winning medical negligence cases that other firms are unable to.

We offer free legal advice and do not pressure our clients into making a claim. We work on a no win no fee basis, so our clients have nothing to lose.

Frequently asked questions

What are forceps deliveries?

A forceps delivery is an assisted delivery where the baby is gently guided out of the birth canal using forceps or a ventouse. They are administered when the baby is in distress, the mother is tired after prolonged labour or if there are medical complications such as high blood pressure.

Is forceps delivery safe for the baby?

Yes, a forceps delivery is generally considered safe for the baby. Most babies experience common side effects like facial bruising or small cuts, but these quickly vanish. Sometimes, the baby can be injured or suffer severe brain damage.

What are the risks of forceps delivery?

Risks to the baby can include minor cuts, swelling and bruising to the face and head, and in rare circumstances, skull fractures and brain damage. Risks to the mother include things like vaginal tearing and incontinence.

What are forceps delivery contraindications?

There are some instances where forceps are not the best option. For example, if the baby’s head has not reached the midpoint of the birth canal or if the baby is too large to fit through the mother’s pelvis. Other reasons could include if the baby’s head position is hard to determine or if the baby’s arms are coming through the birth canal before the head.In circumstances like these, a c-section could be the better option.

Call us on 0161 904 4661

Lines are open now and our legal advisors are on standby to tell you if you can make a claim.

Call: 0161 904 4661

Call us on 0161 904 4661

Lines are open now and our legal advisors are on standby to tell you if you can make a claim.

Call: 0161 904 4661