What Are The Risks And Benefits Of A Forceps Assisted Birth?

Image: Shutterstock

Pregnancy is one of the most important periods of a woman’s life and all pregnant women hope for the same thing, a secure and risk-free childbirth. But often, certain uncalculated complications may arise, which may require a different approach such as an assisted birthing technique.

What Are Forceps?

Image: Shutterstock

Forceps are a surgical instrument used in assisted childbirth that resembles a pair of tongs and is used to clutch, manoeuvre or assist the baby during delivery. Forceps contain two branches that emerge out and curve at the ends to fit at the baby’s head.

Introduced as far back as the 16th century, forceps had the potential to save the lives of both mother and child in a time where safety was unguaranteed for obstructed labours. After its invention, the instrument was kept as a secret by the Chamberlen family of surgeons for over 150 years. The design and usage have varied a lot over the ages, with the efficiency far better from its primitive design.

It is very helpful to be informed about the various risks and abnormalities that could ensue during the labour. The knowledge of forceps is important (though its use is not common these days) should you need to make a choice between the various surgical assistance options for childbirth.

Indications For Use

  • During delivery, your uterus starts contracting down to help push the baby through the dilated cervix. In some cases, the baby is completely turned and the process is risk-free. But there are cases that do require assistance, such as when”
  • Mother is exhausted from prolonged pushing and the baby doesn’t make much progress.
  • Mother has a medical condition wherein she can’t push for too long. These include high blood pressure, heart disease, hypertension, aneurysm or haemorrhage.

Baby gets stuck in an awkward position or doesn’t move with the contractions.

If any assistance is required, the doctor or midwife would need to check both the position of the baby and the mother’s condition, and then perform the procedure safely.

What Happens During A Forceps-Assisted Birth?

Image: iStock

If your doctor decides to opt for a forceps-assisted birth, you would be made to lie on your back with the aid of stirrups to support your legs. A catheter may be inserted to ensure an empty urinary bladder. A mild local or general anaesthetic may also be administered for pain control. Confirmation of the baby’s position in the womb is essential through ultrasound. The doctor will have to make a surgical incision between the perineum and the posterior vaginal wall to enlarge the opening to administer the forceps on each side of the baby’s head. Once the forceps are in place, the contractions of the uterus, along with the traction of the forceps, the head is pulled out slowly. Once the head is out, you need to push out the rest of the body. If the procedure is not successful after a few attempts, an emergency C-section may be performed.

Risks Of A Forceps Birth

The forceps-assisted birthing technique is advised to be performed only by an obstetrician or midwife who is trained in the procedure and is aware of the various risks involved for the mother and the baby. These may include:

For The Baby:

  • Cuts or bruises on the baby’s head or face.
  • The baby may be born with a swelling on the head.
  • A temporary facial nerve damage may occur.
  • Bleeding on the head or a skull fracture.

For The Mother:

  • Injury to the perineum.
  • Increased pain and incontinence problems post-childbirth.
  • High recovery time needed.
  • Sex may be painful for a certain duration post-birth.
  • Tears or bruises may occur along the incision made.

Assistance During Child Birth

Image: Shutterstock

Even though risks occurring during childbirth may be scary, there are ways to ensure a safe and healthy delivery. Some of these ways are:

  • Make sure to eat, sleep, and exercise right during your pregnancy.
  • Ensure you are in an upright position when contractions occur to ensure your baby’s descent. Hence, try and avoid an epidural, which may require you to lie down.
  • Make sure to choose a doctor or midwife who has ample experience and training.

Forceps assisted births help you avoid C-sections, which may pose a difficulty for future pregnancies. Although, it may also be noted that in some of the cases, it is better to avoid any assistance and head straight to surgery to avoid complications with the baby.

It is advised that you stay informed of all the procedures and surgery your body is going under during childbirth. You may keep yourself informed by doing a lot of reading, preparing, and asking the right questions to the doctors. Childbirth is a vital moment in your life wherein you have to ensure the safety of both your child and of your body. While certain risks may be unavoidable, the birth of a baby is still the most natural and beautiful creations of nature.