Q My baby was delivered by forceps and suffered some bruising. Could they cause my baby any long-term damage?
A Dr Mike Starr, paediatrician, says: Forceps are only used to help deliver babies in certain situations. In particular, there are times when a baby’s head won’t come out easily, and using forceps may be the only way to successfully deliver the baby (except perhaps for vacuum extraction or caesarean section). The forceps cradle the baby’s head as the handles are pulled, and the head and shoulders are delivered.
There are possible complications for mother and baby associated with using forceps for deliveries. In the mother, the main problems are possible trauma to the perineum and vagina. Babies often have bruising and swelling of the head and face, which can last several days. Rarely, the nerves in the face may be squashed, so that there can be weakness of the muscles of the face for a while. However, these problems can happen during a normal delivery as well, particularly if the head or shoulders get stuck. There is no evidence that forceps cause long-term damage to babies.