When it becomes unsafe or impossible to have a regular vaginal delivery, forceps may be used to help your doctor deliver your baby. While this type of delivery does have possible risks, this assisted delivery method generally decreases the chance of harm to both the mother and child during childbirth.
It's always hoped that every delivery will occur without any problems. However, if unexpected problems happen, your doctor may believe that it is unsafe or impossible for you to have a regular vaginal delivery. When problems arise, one method available to help you and your doctor deliver your child is a forceps delivery. Forceps instruments are usually used when the baby needs help moving down the birth canal. Forceps are made of metal, with two curved plates that fit snugly around the baby's head. After the forceps are in place, the doctor will attempt to gently pull the baby down the birth canal. This delivery method may be used, for example, when:
- Labor slows down too much
- The baby shows signs of being in trouble (see Fetal Distress)
- The mother has become exhausted from labor and is too tired to push.
There are possible complications associated with a forceps delivery that may affect you and/or your baby. In rare cases, this type of delivery can cause loss of bladder and/or bowel control. You may have significant bleeding from cuts in the cervix or vagina, and they may become infected. It is not uncommon for the baby to get bruises on its face and head during a delivery using forceps. These bruises usually disappear after a few days.
All of these changes to a normal delivery increase the risk of damage to the baby, including:
- Bone fractures
- Brain damage
- Loss of life.
However, these things happen only rarely. When necessary, this type of delivery is generally successful in decreasing the chance of harm to both mother and child.