Severe childbirth injuries from forceps, vacuum ‘unacceptably high’ in Canada, research shows – CBC

One in four forceps-assisted births in Canada results in injuries to the mother

Oct 20, 2023

Canadian mothers face a high rate of severe, long-term injuries from the use of forceps or vacuum in childbirth, and urgent action is needed to reduce it, the authors of a new analysis paper say.

Operative vaginal delivery (OVD) refers to using forceps or vacuum in the second stage of labour when the cervix is fully dilated. Health-care professionals may need to use the instruments if labour stalls or if the fetus is at risk.

In an article published Thursday by medical journal BMJ, epidemiologist Giulia Muraca, an assistant professor in obstetrics and gynecology at McMaster University, and her co-authors note that Canada has the highest rate of maternal trauma during forceps- and vacuum-assisted deliveries out of 24 high-income countries. Canada’s injury rate was 16 per cent, compared to an average rate of 5 per cent for the group.

The paper says that of the more than 35,000 single infants born after OVD in Canada, one in four attempted forceps deliveries and one in eight attempted vacuum deliveries resulted in obstetric trauma — most commonly, obstetric anal sphincter injury, which involves severe tearing to the perineum.

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