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Updated 19 November 2014

Forceps delivery

Forceps may seem like a harsh way of delivering a baby, but these tools have their benefits during difficult deliveries.

Why use forceps?
Forceps are used to help to deliver a baby when the mother is unable to push forcefully enough or if the baby is premature and one wants to spare the head the crushing during passage out of the vagina.

As Caesarean section has become safer, the use of forceps has declined and they are not generally used for any dangerous delivery unless there are no facilities for Caesarean section.

The following conditions must be met before forceps are used:

  • There must be a definite reason for using forceps
  • The first stage of labour must be complete
  • The cervix must be fully dilated
  • The baby’s head must have descended well into the pelvis but has failed to descend any further or there are signs of maternal or foetal distress

How are they used?
The doctor will first perform a full internal examination to determine exactly where the baby’s head is placed. An episiotomy is performed and the forceps are inserted into your vagina one side at a time. The baby’s head is then gently pulled using the forceps for 30 to 40 seconds at a time until it gradually descends onto the perineum.

There should be little pain. When the head is delivered, the forceps are removed and the delivery is completed normally.

(Mandy Borrain, Health24)

 
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