Parents expecting a child hope that when their baby is born, it will be healthy and that the delivery will be go well for both the newborn and mother. Despite a healthy and normal pregnancy, there are times when complications during delivery can occur which may require a doctor to intervene and facilitate the birth. One option available is forceps delivery.
Forceps delivery may be used to help guide the baby’s head through the birth canal and is typically used during contractions or when the mother pushes. The forceps look similar to tongs. This tool is used to assist the birth of a child when labor is difficult, the baby’s head is in the wrong direction, the baby’s heart rate is abnormal or there is some health concern affecting the mother. However, forceps deliveries have the potential of causing birth injuries.
Some potential risks to the mother when forceps delivery is used include injuries to the bladder, genital tract, pelvic muscles, pelvic organs, perineum which is the tissues between the vagina and anus, uterus such as a rupture, and if an incision is made in the perineum to help make the delivery easier, then one may suffer from excessive bleeding and potentially an infection. Furthermore, the mother could suffer both short or long term incontinence and anemia.
In addition to the risks that the mother may suffer during a forceps delivery, the baby is also potentially at risk of suffering injuries. These include skull fracture and bleeding in the skull if too much pressure is applied when the tongs are used. Furthermore, given that the technique grabs the head of the baby, the baby could suffer facial injuries including but not limited to eye trauma. The baby can also suffer from seizures and experience facial palsy which is a temporary weakness in facial muscles.
Source: Mayo Clinic, “Forceps delivery,” accessed on Sept. 12, 2014