Forceps are sometimes used to help deliver your baby. They are smooth, curved metal paddles that are gently inserted into your birth canal one at a time and then locked together. The paddles of the forceps will surround your baby’s head, and your doctor will pull gently on the handles of the forceps, along with your pushes, to help deliver your baby. It is a very safe procedure for you and your baby if performed by an experienced doctor.
Forceps and vacuum extractors are often used if your baby is not tolerating labor well and needs to be delivered rapidly. Another reason for their use is if you are totally exhausted and not able to push your baby out by yourself.
Forceps and vacuum extractors are only used if your baby is far enough down your birth canal. If the previously mentioned problems occur and your baby is too high up, forceps and vacuums are not deemed safe, and a cesarean will often be recommended instead.
Using a vacuum extractor is an alternative to using forceps. A soft plastic suction cup is applied to the top of your baby’s head. A vacuum is then initiated, allowing the cup to stick firmly on your baby’s head. Your doctor will then pull on the handle that is attached to the vacuum cup while you are pushing.
The choice of using forceps or a vacuum extractor is up to your doctor. Currently, however, more doctors prefer to use a vacuum extractor than forceps.
Do talk to your health care provider about these delivery assistance tools. Ask about his or her preference and under what circumstances they might be used.