What is a Forceps Delivery?
Forceps are smooth metal instruments that look like large spoons or tongs. They’re curved to fit around the baby’s head and provide protection as the baby is pulled through the pelvis.
A Forceps Delivery can be needed if the presenting part of a baby, usually the head, or the buttocks in the case of a breech delivery, is in the wrong position and can’t come through the pelvis. This is known as an obstructed labour.
Foetal distress, such as a drop in the baby’s heartbeat, can be a sign of oxygen deprivation, and can also indicate a swift delivery is needed.
During a Forceps Delivery, a cut to the perineum (an episiotomy) may also be made to reduce the risk of tearing when the forceps are applied.
What is a Vacuum Delivery?
A Vacuum Delivery, also known as a Vacuum Extraction or Vacuum Assisted Delivery, is another common obstetric intervention, which may be needed when the head is high in the pelvis or when the cervix isn’t fully dilated.
A small cup is applied to the baby’s head to guide it out, and suction is applied in between contractions to slowly pull it down the birth canal. Sometimes a mother needs to push at the same time.
If the cup slips from the baby’s head more than three times, the doctor has to abandon the Vacuum Delivery and proceed to a C-Section.
Before proceeding to a Forceps or Vacuum Delivery, a woman should be properly consulted, so she is advised of the risks and agrees to the procedure.
Of course, this decision may need to be taken during an emergency situation, so consent needs to be obtained quickly.
A local anaesthetic is usually injected to numb the area between the vagina and anus, if an Epidural is not in position, to provide pain relief.