Vacuum Birth

Vacuum Birth

A baby frequently arrives naturally, without instruments being used to support the delivery. Even where instruments are used, such as forceps or a ventouse suction cup (vacuum birth), the instruments are safe, for both mother and baby. Instrumental delivery, as it is known, has been used, successfully, for many years. However, in a small number of cases the use of a ventouse suction cup may cause an injury. Where it does, the mother and baby may be entitled to compensation. Another instrument which is used to assist in delivering the baby down the birth canal is forceps, which are a large pair of tongs.

To find out if you or your baby could be entitled to compensation, contact our experienced medical negligence lawyers and brain injury specialists: phone us on 0333 123 9099, or email us at, or fill in our contact form. We are very experienced in helping clients with a brain injury and brain injury rehabilitation.

What is a Vacuum assisted birth delivery?

If a vacuum assisted birth is to be considered, a discussion should take place between the patient and her midwife or obstetrician. The midwife will explain the reasons for making the recommendation of using a ventouse suction cup and further explain how it is to be used.

The ventouse suction cup is placed upon the baby’s head, by suction. A plastic or metal cup is connected by a tube to a suction device which firmly sits on the baby’s head. During delivery, i.e. contractions, the midwife will gently pull, to assist in the delivery of the baby.

A vacuum birth may be recommended to avoid a caesarean delivery.

Do I have to consent to a suction cup?

There should be a discussion between the mother and her midwife as to the instrument to be used, why it is being recommended and how this will assist in the delivery of the baby. The mother’s consent to the use of the instrument should be obtained, except in the case of an emergency.

What are the vacuum assisted birth complications?

The ventouse suction cup has been used, successfully, for many years and only in rare cases will there be a birth injury. However, injury can occur to the baby where there are failed attempts at vacuum extraction. In some cases the baby may suffer a fractured skull, intra-cerebral trauma or brain injury.

The baby’s head may have a cone shape appearance, but this is quite usual and will settle down within a matter of days.

Vacuum births may cause cuts to the child’s scalp and face, but again these wounds will not have a lasting effect and settle quite quickly.

Another injury that may arise from the use of a ventouse suction cup is a haematoma, either a cephalohaematoma or a subgaleal haematoma. A cephalohaematoma is not considered dangerous and will resolve within a matter of a few weeks, in most cases. However, a subgaleal haematoma is more serious as the blood, forming under the skin, may be lost in the skull. This can cause serious harm, as can intracranial haemorrhage. This is bleeding within the skull. It is unusual but when it occurs, it may be serious, causing damage to the brain, affecting movement, speech and memory.

Another potential complication, although this also frequently settles in a short period of time, is retinal haemorrhage, which is bleeding behind the eyes.

A further injury, but one which can cause significant injury is a skull fracture, such as occipital osteodiastasis, a depressed skull fracture or a lineal skull fracture.

Some babies may develop jaundice, which is a yellowing of the eyes and skin, which is quite common in a newborn baby. This arises where the baby has a high level of bilirubin in their blood. It is treated by phototherapy. The baby usually recovers within a matter of days, with no long-term effects.

Can I make a vacuum birth compensation claim?

If you or your child has suffered a birth brain injury or a vacuum birth injury, compensation may be available to the mother and baby. To succeed in making a claim, it is necessary to demonstrate that the hospital delivered sub standard care during the delivery of the baby.

Are their time limits for a vacuum birth delivery medical negligence claim.

There are time limits for bringing a vacuum birth compensation claim. They are particular generous in relation to a child. The clock does not start ticking, for a child, until they reach their 18th birthday, at which point they have three years in which to start a medical negligence compensation claim, arising out of the vacuum birth.

However, we recommend that the claim be made as soon as possible for the simple reason that the sooner the claim is made, the sooner compensation is obtained. Clearly, the child cannot make the claim themselves and therefore it is quite usual for their parents to make the claim on their behalf.

Although it is not possible to assess exactly how much compensation the child will need, in the first few years of life, it is often possible to obtain interim payments of birth injury compensation from the Hospital, to meet the ongoing needs of the family, as they care for their child.

The mother will need to make her claim within three years of the birth, in order to ensure she receives her compensation. Whether the mother is making a claim on behalf of themselves, or their child, it is sensible to take action as soon as possible, while memories are fresh (as to what happened during the birth) and to avoid the potential risk of maternity records being lost after the birth.

How much compensation will I receive?

The amount of compensation you are entitled to will depend upon the nature of the injury, how that has affected you and any financial losses and expenses incurred, for example time off work or private medical treatment. No two cases are alike, and they are always assessed by analysing the impact upon the individual who has suffered harm, suffered birth injury. In the case of very severe and serious injury, particular brain injury, compensation is likely to run to millions and millions of pounds, where ongoing care is required over a lifetime. Thankfully, serious birth brain injury cases are rare although even in other less serious cases, compensation can be substantial, running to 6 figures. For less serious injuries, compensation is likely to be below £25,000.


We aim to recover the maximum amount of compensation but also to maximise our client’s recovery. Therefore, we place equal emphasis on rehabilitation issues, whatever the injury. We are particularly experienced in rehabilitation for traumatic brain injury and have seen incredible outcomes, to maximise recovery, to achieve the best possible health outcome.

Our Goal

Our goal is to deliver a personalised service. If you instruct us, you will have a dedicated, senior and experienced solicitor, supporting you all the way and doing all they can to get the best possible outcome for you and your baby. We aim to obtain the maximum possible compensation to reflect the seriousness of the injury and the harm caused and also, to maximise medical recovery.

Will I have to pay legal costs?

There are a number ways to pay legal costs although the most popular is what is known as a “no win, no fee agreement” which means you don’t have to worry about paying any legal costs, whatsoever, if the case is unsuccessful.    If you do succeed you will only make a contribution to the legal costs and any such payment will be made at the end of the case, when you have all your compensation. Furthermore, you do not have to worry about paying the other side’s legal costs.

The aim is to give you peace of mind, so that you do not have to worry about paying legal charges; leaving you to concentrate on your health and the health of your child. We will take all the necessary and appropriate steps to obtain the maximum compensation for you, while you concentrate on your family.

Will making a claim affect my care and the care of my child?


Making a claim for compensation arising out of the harm you or your baby has suffered will not impact upon the quality of ongoing and future care and treatment. When a claim is made against a hospital or Trust, a specialised team acting on behalf the hospital will deal with the claim. Those who you continue to receive care from, will not be involved in dealing with your claim. In many instances the hospital will appoint independent solicitors to act on their behalf. Therefore, you do not have to worry about whether making a claim will have an adverse impact on the care of you or your child.

What do people say about us and our work?

Our team at IBB Law is recognised by Chambers and Partners and the Legal 500, the two leading client guidelines to the legal profession, for our exceptional skill in handling clinical negligence claims.

Legal 500 describes IBB as having a “good” clinical negligence department and “puts the client’s interests at the forefront of every decision.” Simon Pimlott has “a real eye for detail and works incredibly hard to get the best result for each client.” Simon is identified as a “Rising Star”.  

Legal 500 (PI) – “Simon Pimlott is a very passionate lawyer and is dedicated to his clients. He has a particular aptitude for working with challenging and vulnerable clients, especially with mental health problems. He is not afraid to take on difficult cases.”

Legal 500 (Clin Neg) - Simon Pimlott is an outstanding claimant solicitor. He is thorough, intelligent, and empathetic.

Simon Pimlott is a thorough and intellectual solicitor with an empathetic manner with clients. Exceptionally good with clients with mental health problems.’

‘Simon Pimlott is pragmatic. He is exceptional in his level of empathy for clients, and is able to navigate thorny cases with aplomb.’   

‘Simon Pimlott is simply outstanding.‘                                                                                                                                   

We are accredited by the Law Society for Personal Injury Law reflecting our expertise in this area. IBB Claims’ partner Malcolm Underhill has particular expertise with all types of brain injuries, also being accredited as a Brain Injury Specialist by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).

Chambers describes Malcolm as being a highly experienced personal injury practitioner with a strong focus on cases that involve brain injury. A client notes: "He is a very personable, sympathetic professional that has helped us as a family…"  It is also said that Malcolm “was very good at keeping in touch and explaining everything to me”.

A market source praises Malcolm’s "clear and empathetic understanding of the individual client and family situation." One impressed client adds: "Malcolm Underhill has been superb from the outset. He has in-depth knowledge gained from extensive experience, which is certainly advantageous."

Chambers and Partners undertook research of clients and other professionals, leading to the following feedback:

“I found them great at leading me through the minefield of personal injury claims.”

“He [Malcolm Underhill] was very good at keeping in touch and explaining everything to me.”

“He [Simon Pimlott] has an empathetic manner which clients find it reassuring.”

One client wrote, “Simon Pimlott was outstanding, and he was my single point of contact throughout this complex process. He took time to explain every step and ensured all my questions were answered. Simon showed patience and understanding when it was required, while still being assertive to ensure we may progress, and everything was done correctly”.

We are members of Headway, the brain injury charity. Malcolm Underhill is also a trustee of a brain tumour and brain injury charity.

Over the years we have received feedback from many clients.

Contact our vacuum assisted birth claim solicitors

If you have had an unfortunate birth experience, where the vacuum birth has gone wrong, please do contact us to speak with an experienced and specialist solicitor who can advise you on the prospects of making a successful claim for compensation, for you and your baby.

Call us for FREE advice on how to make a vacuum claim.

Get in touch with our forceps birth injury claims solicitors to talk about how we can to help. Please phone us on 0333 123 9099, or email us at, or fill in our contact form.

We are able to support you, in making a claim to achieve the best possible outcome and will support you throughout your claim