Heartbreaking: this family alleges a forceps delivery crushed their baby’s skull and caused her death.

Rachel Melancon, Allen Coats and baby Olivia

For Rachel Melancon her first pregnancy was a dream.

Her and her fiancé Allen Coats excited awaited the Christmas Day birth of their baby.

As the pregnancy progressed they started to become concerned about the size of the baby.

Rachel is petite – pre-pregnancy weighing just over 40 kilograms and under 150cm tall.

They started to ask their obstetrician about the possibility of a caesarean. The doctor refused.

“Rachel had a normal, healthy pregnancy and the day she went in to see if she could be induced, it was already after Christmas,” her Mother -in-Law told told

“The baby was so gigantic inside of her. She asked, ‘Can you please give me a C-section? This baby isn’t coming out of me.'”

Rachel and Alan, from Southeast Texas in the US continued to ask. They say they were repeatedly denied the procedure. report that the obstetrician, Dr. George T. Backardjiev, said, ‘No, you don’t want a C-section. You’ll have a scar”

Her mother-in-law Angie Coats, who was present at the birth, said, “during her delivery, the baby’s heart rate kept going up. ”

He said, ‘One more hour, one more hour.’ Her water broke, but it was 18 hours until the delivery. [Rachel] was running a 103 fever… Five hours passed, then he came in and she started to push. But she was so worn out and the baby wasn’t even in the birth canal.”

Coats alleges that the baby was face up and the obstetrician tried unsuccessfully to turn her with his hands.

“When he couldn’t do that, he took the small forceps to try to pull the baby out. He kept going and even put his foot up on the bed trying to pull,” she said.

“He was turning and twisting and she would never come out. He put the forceps one way and the other. When he touched the top and side of the skull, we heard a pop, like clay cracking in pottery and heard her skull crush.”

In a post on their Facebook page Rachel Melancon claimed Olivia was then left in the birth canal while the doctor stitched her up before she could have the emergency C-section.

‘I felt her pulled out of me and the room was silent. No crying baby and they told Allen to leave the room. That’s the last I remember before waking up to my baby girl lifeless,’ she wrote.


When the tiny baby was delivered she needed medical intervention as she couldn’t breath. Olivia was rushed to a different hospital, where her parents were told that she had suffered numerous fractures.

On January 2, after five days, her life support was turned off.

Olivia Marie Coats died surrounded by her family.

“We’re not mad at hospital, this is not their fault. It is one man’s fault,” Angie Coats, the baby’s grandmother told “We only want justice for Olivia; we want the person responsible, which is the doctor. We don’t want the hospital being shunned. The hospital is great. The nurses were wonderful. It’s not their fault.”

The couple are now suing their obstetrician, claiming the forceps delivery caused her brain damage and numerous fractures. They plead “forceps killed our baby.”

On her Facebook page Rachel has written, “It’s 2014 using forceps is barbaric”.

In Australia vacuum and forceps assisted vaginal delivery account for a fairly constant rate of 11% of deliveries.

In 2010 a Western Australian obstetrician – who cannot be named – was sued after he allegedly botched a baby boy’s birth and left him brain damaged after incorrect use of forceps.

Whilst obstetricians these days prefer vacuum extraction there are some situations where this method cannot be used.

Hannah Dahlen a Professor of Midwifery in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Western Sydney wrote for The Conversation that:

“There are different risks associated with both forceps and vacuum extractors.

In 2010, a systematic review including 32 randomised controlled trials reported that forceps were more likely to achieve a vaginal birth than vacuum extraction.

However, with forceps, there was an increase in severe tears of the mother’s perineum (involving the anal sphincter), incontinence and facial injury for the baby.

Vacuum births are also not without risk, leading to more scalp injuries and cephalohematoma for the baby (swelling due to bleeding in the skull).

With a greater incidence of trauma to the mother and baby than spontaneous birth, we need to look at ways to minimise the use of instruments during birth.”

Olivia lived for 5 days before her life support was tragically turned off

Back in the US the parents of Olivia are understandably devastated. Her father telling “I can’t bring it to myself to talk to people at the moment — sorry.”

They have launched a Facebook campaign to stop the use of forceps in all births.

However Dr. Jennifer Ashton, an obstetrician and gynecologist, told that forceps should not be banned.

“In the right hands they can save a baby’s life,” she said.

“It takes a lot of skill and practice to perform a forceps delivery and most younger [obstetricians] have been trained in vacuum extraction.”

Our thoughts are with the family at this difficult time.