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Obstetrics - Forcep Deliveries

Home Obstetrics – Forcep Deliveries


Pregnant women worldwide deliver their babies in hospitals through the normal delivery method (vaginal delivery). They do not need special medical assistance to deliver their babies. However, a few women need medical assistance and certain medical instruments to bring their babies into the world. These medical instruments are called forceps and are specially designed to assist doctors in helping pregnant women deliver their babies. Such assistance required during vaginal deliveries is called assisted vaginal deliveries or forceps deliveries based on the forceps used when labor does not show progress.

Overview of Forceps Delivery

Forcep Delivery is used to enable pregnant women to deliver their babies when vaginal contractions during childbirth are not enough. In such cases, a tong-like instrument called forceps is used to assist the mother and the doctor in pulling the baby out through the vagina and facilitating childbirth. This is also called a modified vaginal delivery. This method is sometimes used in vaginal childbirth by doctors to help guide the baby out of the birth canal.

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What are Forcep Deliveries?

Forcep Deliveries are recommended during childbirth in conditions where the mother is unable to push the baby out using gestational force. In a forceps delivery, the cervix of the woman is fully dilated, and the membrane has ruptured with the baby seen descending into the birth canal. However, the mother is unable to push the baby out of the birth canal.

Gynecologists proceed with forceps delivery after the mother fails in the first stage of labor. It means that forceps delivery is used in the second stage of labor, where labor does not show progress. This assisted vaginal delivery is called forceps delivery because of the special instrument used to hold the baby’s head and pull it out of the birth canal.

What are the Indications of Forcep Deliveries?

As mentioned earlier, forceps deliveries are used in the second stage of labor, where the cervix is completely dilated, and the membrane has ruptured due to the gestational force applied by the mother during the first stage of labor. These medical instruments called forceps resembling large salad tongs are used (as assistance) to guide the baby out of the birth canal. Here are a few situations where forceps delivery is indicated.

  • Mother is exhausted: It is very difficult for mothers to keep pushing their babies out constantly. Going into labor is not easy. And if labor prolongs, the mother gets exhausted and is unable to keep pushing. A forceps delivery tool is used by doctors in such cases not to pull the baby but guide the baby to come out of the birth canal.
  • Health history of the mother: For expecting mothers suffering from systemic conditions such as cardiac problems, reducing labor time is necessary. Hence, forceps deliveries are used in such cases to minimize health complications.
  • Baby does not come out: Especially for first-time mothers, doctors allow a maximum of 2 hours of push without an epidural and 3 hours with an epidural. In such cases, if the baby shows no signs of coming out of the birth canal, forceps are used. This time is reduced for those who have had children previously.
  • Change in the heartbeat of the baby: If doctors notice a change in the pattern of the baby’s heart rate on the fetal monitor that becomes a cause of concern, forceps delivery is used. It is a quick method of delivery during such emergencies.

What are the Precautions to be Taken After Forcep Deliveries?

After delivery, it is not just the baby you need to take care of but also care for your health. A few precautions you must take after a forceps delivery are:

  • Rest: You need to allow your body ample rest to get back to your normal schedule as soon as possible. This is possible only if you allow your body to rest completely for a few months. This will be beneficial for both you and your child.
  • Use sanitary napkins instead of tampons: Sanitary pads reduce the chances of infection during lochia or post-delivery bleeding, which continues for around 6 weeks after your child’s delivery.
  • ● Avoid lifting heavy objects.
  • Use ice packs for pain relief around the vaginal area: Ice packs provide relief around the vaginal area after childbirth. To avoid direct contact with ice, it is advisable to wrap it in a towel and use it.
  • Maintain hygiene: Use warm water to clean the area between the vagina and the rectum. Gently wash the area to avoid infections.

What are the Risks and Complications Associated with Forcep Deliveries?

The risks and complications associated with forceps deliveries are rarely seen. However, if they occur, they may include:

For the Mother

  • ● Pain in the area between the vagina and the anus
  • ● Injury to organs such as the bladder and the urethra
  • ● Difficulty during urination
  • ● Loss of bladder control
  • ● Rupture of the uterine wall
  • ● Signs of tear or wound in the lower genital tract

For the Baby

  • ● Rupture in the skull due to excessive force used to hold the baby’s head
  • ● Injuries might be seen on the face and to the surrounding structures due to the force used to hold the forceps.
  • ● Bleeding from the skull
  • ● Temporary weakness in the facial muscles

What are the Conclusion Associated with Forcep Deliveries?

After a forceps delivery, your doctor will thoroughly examine you for injuries or lacerations and treat them. Your doctor will also monitor your baby’s condition.

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Are Forceps Deliveries safe?

Yes, Forceps Deliveries are relatively safer than C-sections.

How long does it take for the body to recover after a Forceps Delivery?

The body takes around 12 weeks to recover after a Forceps Delivery completely.

When are Forceps Deliveries not indicated?

  • ● The position of the baby’s head is not known
  • ● The baby has diseases such as osteogenesis imperfecta
  • ● The baby has bleeding disorders such as hemophilia
  • ● The baby’s shoulders and arms pass before the head through the birth canal


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