When it comes to medical interventions in childbirth, such as forceps, many expecting parents are understandably nervous.
Although they may seem intimidating, forceps can be a lifesaving tool, but there are risks involved.
Why do doctors use forceps?
If labor is not progressing and your safety or your baby’s safety is at risk, your obstetrician can use forceps, a metal tool that resembles a pair of curved tongs, to reposition or guide the baby’s head.
Forceps deliveries are uncommon, occurring in only 1.1% of vaginal births. However, they are still an important tool that can prevent the need for a C-section when your baby is stuck or in distress. They can also help if you are unable to continue pushing due to exhaustion or a medical condition.
What injuries can forceps cause?
Most forceps injuries are minor. These may include bruising and swelling, which subside after a few days.
However, in rare cases, serious complications may occur, such as:
- Skull fractures
- Internal bleeding
- Nerve damage
You should discuss the risks with your obstetrician before consenting to forceps delivery.
What precautions are necessary?
Before using forceps, your doctor should evaluate your baby’s size, heart rate and positioning and ensure that you have adequate anesthesia.
If the head is too large or too high in the birth canal, forceps delivery may not be appropriate. If your baby has a disorder that affects his or her bones, such as osteogenesis imperfecta, it is not safe to use forceps.
Forceps are unlikely to cause serious injury to your baby, and they can prevent more severe complications. However, as with any procedure, it is important to understand the risks so you can give informed consent.