Forceps Delivery

Forceps Delivery

Forceps Delivery
Image by William Smellie

What is forceps delivery of a baby?

Babies are sometimes reluctant to enter into the world and must be assisted out by a doctor. Forceps have been used for 150 years to help the baby’s head through the pelvis. They can be used not just to help pull out the child, but to turn the head into a more appropriate position if the head is coming out at the wrong angle. In a breech birth (bottom first), the forceps actually protect the following head and prevent the cervix from clamping around the neck.

How is forceps delivery done?

Forceps consist of two spoon-shaped stainless steel blades. They slide around the side of the baby’s head and fit snugly between the wall of the vagina and the head. Once placed carefully in position, the doctor, in time with the contractions, will apply traction (and sometimes rotation) to deliver the head. The baby may be born with some red marks on its face and head from the forceps, but they disappear after a few weeks.

Another method of assisted delivery is vacuum extraction, in which a suction cap (ventouse) is attached to the baby’s head, and traction is applied to the cap to help pull out the baby.

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