The professionals looking after you while you are in labour may opt for a forceps delivery if your baby is getting distressed, isn’t moving down the birth canal despite your efforts or if your blood pressure becomes high.
What Are Forceps?
Forceps are a medical instrument used for extracting things that cannot be reached otherwise. They are usually made from high-grade carbon steel, which enables them to withstand being sterilized repeatedly at high temperatures.
There are many different types of forceps, but the sorts that are used in childbirth are Obstetrical Forceps.
They look kind of like salad servers, and probably would be very effective for dishing up a nice salad, however, they are better used helping women who need an assisted delivery because they just can’t seem to get their baby out.
How Are Forceps Used?
For the professionals to be able to aid you with a forceps delivery, certain things will need to have happened.
1. Your waters must have broken, if not, they will need to be ruptured by your midwife or doctor.
2. Your cervix must be fully dilated and retracted, so that all is ready for your baby to move down the birth canal.
3. Your bladder will need to be empty, you may have a catheter fitted to achieve this.
4. You will need to be on your back with your feet up in stirrups or being held by assistants.
5. The doctor will need to check the position of your baby’s head, that it is low enough in the birth canal and to see if your baby is facing the right way.
6. If you have not had an epidural then you will be given a local or general anaesthetic.
The forceps will then be inserted into the vagina, one at a time and positioned around your baby’s head. The position of the forceps will be checked.
If your baby is facing the wrong way the head will be turned so that it is facing your spine and so that baby’s back is slightly to one side of the front of your tummy.
Once the forceps are in position your baby will be gently pulled down the birth canal and out into the world. An episiotomy may be needed.
Forceps Delivery - Positive Aspects
The good thing about forceps is that they can be used even if baby is not in the correct position, as long as baby’s head is far enough down. Using forceps can avoid you having to have a caesarean and can deliver baby quicker than an emergency caesarean.
Forceps Delivery - Negative Aspects
Forceps can leave your internal tissues, particularly your pelvic floor muscles bruised. They can bruise baby’s head. They can cause a tear resulting in faeces leaking from the bowel into the vagina, (this is called a rectovaginal fistula).
If forceps are not used correctly they can cause nerve damage or fracture a baby’s skull. This isn’t to scare you though; it would only result if someone who didn’t know what they were doing used them inappropriately.
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