A forceps delivery poses a risk of injury for both mother and baby.

Possible risks to you include:

  • Pain in the perineum — the tissue between your vagina and your anus — after delivery
  • Lower genital tract tears and wounds
  • Difficulty urinating or emptying the bladder
  • Short-term or long-term urinary or fecal incontinence
  • Anemia — a condition in which you don't have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to your tissues — due to blood loss during delivery
  • Injuries to the bladder or urethra — the tube that connects the bladder to the outside of the body
  • Uterine rupture — when the baby breaks through the wall of the uterus into the mother's abdominal cavity
  • Weakening of the muscles and ligaments supporting your pelvic organs, causing pelvic organs to slip out of place (pelvic organ prolapse)

While most of these risks are also associated vaginal deliveries in general, they're more likely with a forceps delivery.

If your health care provider does an episiotomy — an incision in the tissue between the vagina and the anus that can help ease the delivery of your baby — you're also at risk of postpartum bleeding and infection.

Possible risks to your baby — although rare — include:

  • Minor facial injuries due to the pressure of the forceps
  • Temporary weakness in the facial muscles (facial palsy)
  • Minor external eye trauma
  • Skull fracture
  • Bleeding within the skull
  • Seizures

Minor marks on your baby's face after a forceps delivery are normal and temporary. Serious infant injuries after a forceps delivery are rare.

Jul. 18, 2012