Forceps delivery

Forceps delivery: - Reasons, Treatment & Risks

A forceps delivery is a form of assisted vaginal delivery. Its need comes in certain cases where the mothers are opting for a normal delivery.

In this particular method of delivering, an instrument that is shaped like a pair of large spoons crossing together like a scissor is used. This instrument is used to pull up on the baby’s head in a mild fashion in order to guide the baby out of the birthing canal. All this happens while the mother is going through her contractions. 

This form of assisted delivery is recommended if there is a question about baby’s safety during the delivery. Furthermore, labour tends to be long and this form of assisted delivery makes sure that the mother does not have to endure the labour pains for long.

Why is forceps delivery recommended?

Once your cervix has been fully dilated you should not have an issue with passing out the baby through the birthing canal. However, there are times when due to some circumstance, the baby is not able to come out properly. This, in turn, can cause long labour periods and there is also the question of the safety of the baby.  This forms one of the primary reasons that forceps are considered.

The other reasons for recommendations are as follows:

  • Your labour isn’t progressing: if you have never had a child before and you have not attended the Lamaze class, you won’t be able to ascertain what to do during the contractions.  To that end, the labour can be excruciatingly long. In such event, the doctors recommend a forceps delivery in order to make sure that the mother and the child are safe. 

  • The heartbeat of the baby: If he can show that there is something wrong with the heart rate of the baby, then this form of delivery is recommended.

  • There are health concerns: there are many conditions where a long and enduring labour can be endured. However, if you have health concerns, then the doctor is going to recommend for your labour to be over with quickly. Forceps delivery is going to make sure of that.

  • The baby’s direction towards the exit is wrong: If the direction of the baby towards the exit s wrong, then there is a risk that the child and the mother might suffer some physical damage during the delivery. To that end, this form of delivery is recommended to curb down the risk of injury.

When not to opt for this form of delivering?

In the following instances, this form of delivery is not recommended:

  • If the baby has some genetic disorder that can physically impact him like haemophilia or osteogenesis imperfect, then this delivery format is not recommended.

  • The baby’s head hasn’t moved yet.

  • The position of the baby’s head is not known

  • The baby’s arms and shoulders are accentuating on the exit towards the birth canal. 

Preparation for the procedure:

Before you are recommended with this procedure, the doctor is going to motivate you to go through normally and ensure the labour pains for a while. To that end, he is also going to adjust your anaesthetics in order to provide you with some comfort. 

If however, the pain gets to a too much excruciating stage, only then the forceps delivery will be considered. 

During and after the procedure:

Before the procedure:

  • As the delivery progresses, you will be asked to form the handles of the bed to brace yourself while you are pushing.

  • The doctor is going to use the fingers to find the baby’s head and use forceps to mildly clasp upon it. This is going to happen between the contractions.

  • These forceps are then going to be used gently to guide your baby outside into the world. 

  • In case the baby’s head it faced upwards, then the doctors are going to use the time between the contractions to rate their head to the right place.

  • Once the baby has been pushed out enough and the delivery is imminent, the forceps are removed and the baby is taken out.

After the procedure

After the procedure is over with, you will be sent home. Your body would need recovery and to that end, make sure that you partake in the following in order to get healed fast:

  • Apply the ice pack on the region in order to sooth the wound

  • Use warm water in the vaginal area in order to soothe the burning sensation that you might feel during urination. 

  • Make sure that you use a clean pad upon the region when you are defecating.  

  • Whenever you are sitting, you need to sit in a way that your buttocks aren't pressured much.

What are the risks of this procedure to the mother?

  • After the delivery, the mother can feel pain in the perineum

  • There are going to be wounded in the lower genital tracts.

  • You might find it difficult to urinate.

  • You might experience urinary and faecal incontinence.

  • Anemia

  • Rupture of the uterus

  • The muscles of your pelvic region might weaken.

  • Bladder and the urethra can be injured.

What are the risks of this procedure to the baby?

  • There can be minor facial injuries due to the forceps’ pressure.

  • There can be a temporary case of facial palsy.

  • Eye trauma of a minor nature

  •  Skull fracture

  • Skull bleeding

  • Seizures.


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Dr. Madhu Goel

Senior Gynecologist and a Senior Consultant

Dr. Madhu Goel is a well renowned senior gynaecologist and a senior consultant at Fortis La femme, New Delhi. She runs a private consultation in Goel’s surgery and Gynea centre and prior to being associated with Fortis; she was a consultant a Rockland Hospital.