Forceps Delivery: When And How Is It Done?

4 min

Forceps delivery is one of the many assisted delivery options that you may have heard of. The procedure is used in vaginal deliveries when the baby is in the head-down position, but the labor is progressing slowly. The doctor will use a tool called forceps to help the baby come out easily.

Here, Momjunction gives you the details of the procedure, when it is necessary, its risks to mother and baby, and how to prevent it.

What Is Forceps Delivery?

Forceps delivery is an instrumental vaginal delivery used when the labor progresses slowly. A forceps is a medical tool resembling the stainless steel salad tongs. It holds the head of the baby gently and aids in smooth passage out of the birthing canal. Doctors choose this assisted delivery method when the baby needs to be delivered quickly and safely.


When Will Forceps Be Used?

  • A forceps delivery is carried out if.
  • The mother gets exhausted during the second stage of labor.
  • Use of epidural prolongs labor and decreases the mother’s desire to push.
  • Fetal distress is suspected.
  • Use of rotational instrumental delivery is necessary, in the case of a malpositioned fetus.

A forceps delivery becomes more critical than vacuum extraction method or a c-section in the following situations:

  • Assisted delivery of the preterm infant (< 34 weeks’ gestation)
  • Delivery of the head at assisted breech delivery (singleton or twin)
  • Assisted delivery with a face presentation
  • Controlled delivery of head at cesarean section
  • Instrumental delivery for maternal medical conditions that preclude pushing
  • Assisted delivery with suspected coagulopathy or thrombocytopenia in the fetus
  • Cord prolapse in the second stage of labor
  • Instrumental delivery under general anesthesia

However, forceps delivery is not ideal if,

  • The position of the baby’s head is not determined accurately.
  • Baby’s head has not moved far in the birthing canal.
  • A physical condition of the baby affecting the bone strength or causing a bleeding disorder.
  • Size of the baby is large and not fitting into the pelvis.
  • Keep reading to know what exactly happens during a forceps delivery.

What Happens During A Forceps Delivery?

Before the forceps delivery, the doctor will do preliminary pelvic examinations. They will check for:

  • Baby’s position
  • Cervical dilation

During the procedure:

  • A thin catheter is attached to your urethra to empty your bladder. This can be quite painful, but the urine gets collected in the bag connected to the catheter.
  • The doctor then gives a pain relief injection to numb the vagina (if an epidural or a pudendal block were not administered earlier). The heartbeat of the baby will be closely monitored throughout the procedure.
  • The doctor will then do an episiotomy to open up the vagina.
  • The forceps will be applied gently one at a time to each side of the baby’s head.
  • As you feel the contraction, the doctor will slowly guide the baby out with the forceps, as the mother pushes.
  • If the baby is not facing downwards, then the doctor will rotate the baby using the forceps.

Note: If the baby is not moving even after three contractions or pulls using forceps, then the doctor may recommend a c-section.

After Procedure:

The doctor will check for any injuries and the baby will be monitored for any complications due to this method of assisted delivery.

The patient may experience discomfort or pain for a few weeks after the forceps delivery. But if the pain is intense and does not subside, make sure to visit your doctor.

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