For most moms, the ultimate goal of giving birth is to leave the hospital shortly after delivery with a happy, healthy infant, but in some cases, complications arise during the birthing process that make this dream impossible. If you have certain health issues that make the delivery particularly high risk, or if your labor fails to move forward as quickly as your doctors would like, they may decide to conduct a forceps delivery to improve the chances of a safe delivery.
Regrettably, however, forceps deliveries, which involve your delivery doctor removing your baby from your birth canal using a medical device that looks similar to salad tongs, can be risky for both mother and child. In some cases, one or both can suffer a serious injury. Just what types of injuries and issues are possible following a forceps extraction?
Risks for you, the mother
Physical complications relating to forceps deliveries can prove relatively minor, often improving completely over time, or they can be highly serious and long-term in nature. For example, you may experience considerable pain in your perineum following this type of birthing procedure, or you may find that you have a hard time emptying your bladder for a period of time following your child’s birth. You may also develop short- or long-term incontinence issues that can prove uncomfortable and embarrassing in the aftermath of a forceps delivery, and you may suffer certain types of injuries to your urethra or bladder.
Risks for your son or daughter
In some cases, babies also suffer injuries during forceps deliveries, and they, too, can range broadly in terms of severity. On the less-serious end, your baby may suffer minor injuries to his or her face, or he or she may experience a form of temporary weakness in the muscles of the face. In more serious instances, your baby may suffer a skull fracture during a forceps delivery, or he or she may suffer seizures or experience bleeding within the skull as a result of the procedure.
If your doctor decides a forceps delivery is in your best interest but you are fearful about the process, know that you may have other options, such as a vacuum extraction or Cesarean section, available to you.