The Ugly Truth about Forceps

Let’s talk about something ugly.
I don’t think receives nearly as much attention as it should. Something that I think a lot of people brush off, or ignore, because they don’t want to think about the ugly, or the negative.
It’s time that we think about this ugly, negative thing. Any human being who will ever face becoming a parent should definitely think about this ugly thing.

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At first glance, forceps appear to be much like any medical or surgical instrument. To many without medical experience, it may look a bit foreign. Forceps like these, and similar, are used by a doctor during the vaginal delivery of an infant, when the doctor believes it is necessary. Doctors will insert the ‘tongs’ of the forceps into the vagina, pinch the new babies tiny head with them, and pull the baby from the womb.

Now stop for a second. Read that paragraph again. I have a feeling a lot of you may stop and think that because it is a medical instrument, because a doctor has to use it and a doctor decides when it’s necessary, that it’s okay. The unfortunate truth is that forceps are not okay.

Imagine this:
Your little one has crawled under the bed and you cannot reach them. You know it is not safe for them to be under the bed, alone and they must come out. You get your forceps, grab your little one’s head with them, and drag them out from under the bed. Your child cries, hard. The tongs have left half moon wounds and bruises on their cheeks and temples. One tong has even cut your child’s face open, and they’re bleeding. No need to mention the force required to tug the child by their head has hurt their neck, and scared them.

Now I imagine most of you are sitting there thinking, but, I would never do something like that to my child. No child should be pulled out of a space by their heads. Right? It’s just so violent.

What I’m asking is, why anybody would think to do that to a newborn.  What’s worse than my ‘example’ is they aren’t under a bed. They are embraced in a tight, protective womb, held by a mother’s body. They are squeezed inside a space as small as they are. Keep in mind that every complication that could warrant the use of forceps by a doctor can be solved another way.

Forceps are never a final option, as small and fragile as newborns are, it just doesn’t follow logic to grab their head with a giant set of metal tongs, and pull them from such a tight, confined space.

This next part is the reason why the dangers of forceps need to be known by every single person who could ever be involved in childbirth.

Forceps can cause many injuries to an infant’s face, neck, and head. Bruises and lacerations are your least concern, because forceps have been documented to break infant’s skulls, tear their spinal cords, and cause brain damage.

Just to be clear; forceps are not just dangerous. Forceps are deadly.
Let me show you just how deadly forceps really are. I have to warn you, these articles are very graphic. I do, however, highly suggest everybody reading them, because I feel that the severity of forceps usage is what is so important.

Heres an article about a mother who lost her son due to forceps being used during childbirth.

Let’s focus on this article about a couple who’s baby girl died three days after a forceps assisted birth that says “thousands of babies every year are being delivered using forceps – yet this instrument is deemed so risky many obstetricians no longer use it. Unfortunately, few women are told of the potential dangers.”
It also adds later “studies since the Eighties have reported high rates of damage to mothers and babies through forceps use. Recent research confirmed this poses a higher risk of birth injury than other interventions, including Caesareans.”
As well as “Using forceps safely requires a high level of skill and expertise, which ‘means that the outcome is always uncertain, even for experienced surgeons,’ says leading U.S. surgeon Atul Gawande, head of the World Health Organization’s Safer Surgery initiative.”

And here’s an article about a couple who lost their baby girl, Olivia, due to forceps being used during childbirth. Olivia’s parents also have this page, which says “By trying to instate “The Olivia Law”, the parents hope to make the use of forceps nonexistent and hopefully illegal so that no other child suffers like their baby girl did.” And here’s a link to the petition to pass The Olivia Law.

Forcep delivery can also cause an array of medical complications for mother, including but definitely not limited to long-term or permanent urinary or fecal incontinence, uterine rupture, and bladder damage. You can look at this link to see a list of some of the other risks to mom. Remember, this list is not complete.

Forceps are not a last-resort. Any complication during childbirth that can be “solved with forceps” can and should be solved with something else, there is always another option. So please do not risk your child’s health, their life, when you CAN choose something else.

It’s time we remove forceps from our delivery rooms. Not even one more family should have to suffer at the end of forceps. Not even one more child should die.

Written By: Monica Smith

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