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Birth Injury Due to Vacuum Extraction

Why Use Vacuum Extraction?

The second stage of labor refers to the point where a mother attempts to push the baby through the birth canal. This stage ranges in length depending on the individual, and can last anywhere from hours to more than a full day. Vacuum extraction is a method of labor assistance doctors might use when assisting an extended delivery.

A vacuum extractor is a piece of medical equipment which is placed on top of a baby’s head while the child is still in the birth canal. A vacuum extractor includes a small cup, the part which fixes to the infant’s head, and a thin tube connecting the cap to a vacuum pump. This device provide soft suctioning to help coerce the baby from the birth canal.

Proper Use and Circumstances

Vacuum extraction will not always be used to induce faster delivery. It is typically only used when the labor has stalled, is unusually difficult, or the baby’s health depends on immediate delivery.

While vacuum extractors are useful, they can be dangerous. If not applied properly they can cause trauma and severe birth injuries. Certain guidelines should be followed, in both the method and circumstances, before vacuum extraction is applied.

To start with, the cup of a vacuum extractor must be placed on a certain portion of the baby’s head, three centimeters back from the soft spot known as the anterior fontanel. It is critical that the cup is placed in the correct position, otherwise severe brain damage can occur. The doctor should also avoid twisting or turning the baby’s head while trying to coax the infant from the womb, and applying the device for too long. If the baby needs to be rotated or repositioned in order to exit the birth canal correctly, vacuum extraction should be avoided.

Pulling for longer than fifteen minutes or straining the baby’s neck can also cause trauma and birth injuries. If a vacuum extractor pops off three times during the procedure, it should be abandoned and a C-section performed instead.


Injuries caused by vacuum extraction can range from superficial to severe. Some examples include skull fractures, bruising, retinal hemorrhages, nerve damage, brain bleeds, and brain damage which can lead to conditions like cerebral palsy and seizures.

Vacuum extraction is a useful technique to assist in infant delivery, but if used incorrectly, at the wrong time, or for too long the effects can be devastating.

Contact Us

If you or a loved one is suffering the consequences related to a vacuum extraction delivery which you believed caused your child’s injuries, contact Shea Law Group today to speak with one of our Chicago birth injury lawyers. We have the experience and dedication to get you the compensation you rightfully deserve. Call us at 1 (773) 365-0040 for a free initial consultation, and remember, we never collect unless you do.