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Forceps Delivery

Parturition, particularly vaginal birth, is one of the simplest, most uncomplicated medical procedures. However, it often requires the assistance of medical staff. There are several types of medical-assisted delivery methods, such as episiotomy, amniotomy, induced labor, fetal monitoring, forceps delivery, vacuum extraction, and Cesarean section. Depending upon your condition during labor, your doctor may advise you to take medical assistance during delivery. 

What is forceps delivery?

Forceps delivery is an assisted delivery method in which doctors insert large, spoon-like forceps inside the vagina, place them around the baby’s head, and gently pull out the baby. 

However, it is not a preferred assisted delivery method anymore. Doctors usually perform a Cesarean section.  

Who qualifies for forceps delivery?

Forceps delivery is performed during the second stage of labor when your cervix is fully dilated, membranes have ruptured, the baby has descended into the birth canal, and you’re unable to push the baby out. It may also be employed when the baby is stuck in the birth canal. 

Why and when is forceps delivery used?

There are several reasons doctor will recommend forceps delivery, including,

  1. Prolonged labor

If the mother cannot deliver the baby even after pushing up to the maximum period, forceps delivery is employed.

  1. If the baby’s heartbeat is abnormal

If the fetal monitor indicates changes in the baby’s heart rate pattern, forceps delivery is needed immediately. 

  1. If the mother has prior health issues

Doctors shorten the labor duration if the mother has heart-related issues, such as high blood pressure or cardiac disease. 

  1. If the mother is exhausted 

The labor is very hard on the mother, physically and psychologically. After a certain point, she loses all her energy to push the baby further. That is when assistance, including the use of forceps, is needed for the delivery. 

What are the advantages of forceps delivery? 

It has several significant advantages. 

  • It is an alternative to major surgeries such as the Caesarean section.
  • It involves minimal risks.
  • It is used to correct the baby’s head position that facilitates a smooth and less painful delivery.
  • It aids faster delivery; women can deliver a baby in minutes when assisted with forceps.

What are the risks associated with forceps delivery?

Although it is considered a safe procedure, in rare cases, risks may arise. These fall into two categories. 

Risks to the mother

  • Chances of the vagina, rectum, and urethra tearing
  • Excessive blood loss
  • Short-term involuntary urine leakage
  • Pain in the perineum
  • Weakening of pelvic organs, ligaments, and muscles that sometimes result in pelvic organ prolapse
  • Rupture of the uterine wall

Risks to the baby

  • Facial palsy 
  • Minor facial injuries 
  • Fracture of and bleeding in the skull 
  • Weakening of facial muscles 

Conclusion 

A forceps delivery occurs in the second stage of labor if the labor is taking too long or the baby is exhibiting distress. If you wish to avoid a forceps delivery, it is essential to discuss and develop a detailed birth plan beforehand. 

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

It is not recommended, when: 

  1. your child has a condition which affects the strength of his/her bones like osteogenesis imperfecta, or has bleeding disorder like hemophilia
  2. The head of your baby has not yet moved past midpoint of the birth canal
  3. The position of your child’s head is not known
  4. The shoulders or arms of your baby are leading the way through the birth canal
  5. Your child may not be able to fit through your pelvis due to his/her size or the size of your pelvis

How can you prepare yourself for forceps delivery?

Your doctors will first attempt to facilitate a normal delivery by encouraging labor. They will try using local anesthesia, spinal anesthesia, or intravenous medication to induce labor more effectively. In some cases, an episiotomy is also performed to ease the delivery. 

What are the post-delivery problems related to forceps delivery?

If your procedure involves an episiotomy and your vagina is torn, healing might take longer than usual. Sometimes, fecal incontinence can also occur. If your pain worsens or you have a fever accompanied by an infection, immediately consult your doctor. 

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