A forceps delivery is a method of assisted vaginal birth. Your obstetrician or midwife will recommend an assisted birth if they have concerns about your baby’s health during the birth.
Forceps are smooth metal instruments. They are curved carefully to fit around a baby’s head. They look like large tongs or spoons that fit together at the handles.
There are different types of forceps. Some help your baby turn and some are for babies who are in the right position but need some help to be born.
What happens during a forceps delivery
Your obstetrician will examine you to check the position of your baby’s head. They will position the forceps around your baby’s head, and join them together at the handles.
During a contraction, you are normally asked to push. The obstetrician will gently pull on the forceps to help deliver your baby’s head. It usually takes about 3 to 4 pulls for your baby’s head to be born.
Your obstetrician will know if your baby’s head is moving further down the birth canal with each pull.
Once your baby’s head is delivered the forceps are taken off. The rest of the birth will be the same as if the forceps had not been used.
Risks of forceps delivery
Forceps are more successful at delivering babies than ventouse. But they may cause bruising or tears to your vagina and perineum.
You will probably need to have an episiotomy before a forceps delivery. This is to reduce the risk of tears to your perineum.
If a forceps delivery is not successful
If the forceps are not successful, your obstetrician will usually need to do a caesarean.