Why did I need a forceps birth?


A forceps delivery is often performed for the same reasons as a ventouse and particularly when the baby’s head is positioned higher up in the pelvis. Forceps can best be described as two curved smooth metal spoon/salad server-like instruments that are placed either side of your baby’s head (from just below the baby’s ears). There are three types of forceps commonly in use:

a) Neville-Barns forceps – used when the baby’s head is low down in the pelvis

b) Rhodes forceps – used when the baby’s head is positioned slightly higher

c) Keillands forceps – used to rotate the baby’s head from a back-to-back (OP) position to a forward facing (OA) position.

Just like a ventouse birth, a steady gentle traction is applied as the woman pushes with the contractions. Sometimes, a forceps delivery will be undertaken in the Delivery suite theatre; this is in case the baby’s head does not descend and the doctors need to proceed to a Caesarean section.

Following the birth, you may notice some bruising on your baby’s face

And/or on their scalp; these are forceps marks. They can be quite noticeable but usually fade within a few days post birth. Where there is a lot of bruising, you may also notice that your baby develops jaundice (a yellow tinge to their skin). For more detailed information, we suggest that you also read our article on ‘Baby Jaundice’. If you are unable to push or have been advised not to push during childbirth because you have an underlying medical condition, your doctor will recommend that you have a ventouse or forceps assisted birth. The majority of baby’s born using the ventouse or forceps are born in a very good condition and suffer no ill-effects. Approximately 12% of all births in the UK (1 in 8) are assisted using either the ventouse or forceps.