Birth Items

Forceps Definition

Forceps are medical instruments used during pregnancy and childbirth to assist in the delivery of the baby. They are also called obstetric forceps and are available in different sizes and shapes. Forceps are inserted into the birth canal and are used to grasp the baby’s head or body and pull it out of the mother.

The use of forceps has fallen out of favor in recent years, as other methods (such as vacuum extraction) are now considered to be safer. However, forceps are still used in some cases, particularly when the baby is large or in a difficult position.

What are the different types of forceps?

There are two main types of forceps:

  1. The first type, called the straight forceps (occiput forceps), is used to deliver the baby’s head. The forceps are placed around the baby’s head.
  2. The second type, called the curved forceps (pelvic forceps), is used to deliver the baby’s body. The forceps are placed around the baby’s body.

How are forceps used?

Forceps are usually used when the baby is in the head-down position, and the head is ready to be delivered. The doctor or midwife will place the forceps around the baby’s head, and then gently pull the baby out.

In some cases, the baby may be in a breech (bottom-first) position, and the forceps can be used to deliver the bottom or feet first.

What are the risks of using forceps?

There are some risks associated with using forceps, including:

  1. Bruising or scratches on the baby’s head.
  2. Misshapen head.
  3. Scalp bleeding.
  4. Skull fracture.
  5. Brain damage.
  6. Excessive bleeding in the mother.
  7. Uterine rupture.

This image shows how often the term ‘Forceps’ is used in relation to other, similar birth terms:

Other Terms Related to Forceps

There are a few other terms related to forceps that you should be aware of:

Episiotomy: This is a procedure that is sometimes performed during childbirth in order to widen the mother’s vagina.

Vacuum extractor: This is a medical device that is used to help deliver the baby during childbirth. It consists of a suction cup that is placed on the baby’s head, and then the baby is gently pulled out.

Caesarean section: This is a surgical procedure that is performed in order to deliver the baby through the mother’s abdomen.

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