In forceps-assisted vaginal delivery, the doctor uses forceps to help move the baby through the birth canal. Forceps are smooth metal instruments that look like large spoons or tongs. The doctor uses forceps to guide the baby's head out of the birth canal. The mother will push the baby the rest of the way out. Forceps are safe and only used when necessary for you and your baby.
Forceps are used only when your baby is far enough down the birth canal. Your doctor will check carefully to make sure that the baby is in right and it is safe to use forceps.
Reasons For Forceps-Assisted Delivery
The following are the reasons for using forceps to assist a vaginal delivery:
- The baby is an awkward position
- After pushing for several hours, the baby may be close to coming out, but needs help to get through the last part of the birth canal.
- You may be too exhausted to push any longer.
- A medical problem may make it risky for you to push.
- The baby may be showing signs of stress and need to come out faster than you can push it out on your own
What Happens During A Forceps-Assisted Delivery?
The doctor will give you medicine to block pain. This may either an epidural block or a numbing medicine placed in the vagina.
The doctor places forceps carefully on the baby's head. Then, during a contraction, you will be asked to push again. At the same time, the doctor will gently pull to help deliver your baby. After the baby’s head is delivered, you will push the baby the rest of the way out.
If the doctor is unable to move your baby with help of forceps, he/she may recommend you to have a cesarean birth (C-section).
What Are The Risks Of Forceps-Assisted Delivery?
Forceps-assisted vaginal delivery is a safe method to deliver a baby. They may decrease the need for a C-section. However, there are some risks with forceps delivery. Most of these risks are not severe. When properly used, forceps rarely cause lasting problems.
The risks for the mother include:
- There is a higher chance of having more severe vaginal tears, which may require prolonged healing time.
- Problems with urinating or moving your bowels after delivery
The risks for the baby include:
- There may be bumps, bruises, or marks on the baby's head or face. They will heal in a few days or weeks.
- The head may swell or become cone-shaped. It should return to normal usually within a day or two.
- The baby's nerves may be injured by pressure from the forceps. The baby's face muscles may droop if the nerves are injured, but they will go back to normal when the nerves heal.
- The baby may be cut from the forceps and bleed (this happens very rarely).
- There may be bleeding inside the baby's head (this happens very rarely).