What I wish I had known about assisted delivery 

I read very little about forceps and ventouse deliveries when I was pregnant with my first baby. 

It didn’t even cross my mind that it might be a possibility, as I just expected to be able to deliver my baby by pushing and if not I would be given a C-section. 

Looking back now I realise how ridiculous it was that I didn’t think I would need an assisted delivery. I’ll add that to the million other things I had no clue about before having kids!

Statistics show that one in five women have one in the UK, so I probably should have given it at least a passing glance when reading up on giving birth. 

So if I could go back and do it all over again, would I want to be better informed? Would it really have made any difference?

I’ve detailed my birth story in a previous post if you fancy a read, but I thought I would delve a little deeper into my experience of a forceps delivery.

I needed assisted delivery because the baby had become tangled in the umbilical cord. He heart rate was calm throughout the entire labour, but after pushing for two hours, everyone knew that something just wasn’t working like it should. 

A doctor calmly advised me the baby needed help to be delivered. He reassured me that I wouldn’t need to have a forceps delivery in an operating room, that I could stay in the delivery ward. 

Maybe he mentioned the risks to me, maybe he didn’t, I really cannot remember. At that point I had been in labour for around 20 hours and was so ready for it to just end. 

I deliberately didn’t look at the forceps, because I figured the anticipation of it all was bad enough without actually witnessing what was about to be inserted into my hoohah. 

Having seen pictures of them since, you can just think of them as a really big pair of salad tongs. 

Had the doctor given me a print-out detailing the risks, I’m sure that in the moment I just would have freaked out. 

The risks associated with assisted delivery, according to the NHS, are: 

  • There is a higher chance of a third or fourth degree vaginal tear (where the tear reaches the muscle or wall of the anus). There is a greater risk of this during a forceps delivery. 
  • Your baby may have a mark or bruise on the head. This may increase jaundice in the first few days, but rarely causes other problems.
  • Small cuts could be made to your baby’s face or scalp but these heal quickly.  

Despite all of the risks, for me it was a no-brainer that I would agree with the doctor’s advice to have a forceps delivery. 

This is because A) he has a medical degree and I don’t, and B) I knew that I would have a far longer recovery with a C-section. He offered me a chance to give birth there and then, in the same room, without having into surgery, and even told me the baby would be here within 10 minutes. For me it was a simple choice. 

And yet I suppose I wish I had known what it would feel like, that having a medical instrument pushed up there is just as unpleasant as a smear test and then some, because then a baby gets yanked through your vagina. 

It hurts. Having since had another baby without any assistance, or pain relief, I would say that the forceps does hurt a bit more. Don’t get me wrong, neither is a walk in the bloody park. 

However I was given anaesthetic injections to numb the area, so when I did sustain a second degree tear I knew nothing about it. 

The worst bit was the sensation of the head being pulled past the cervix. It was an immense amount of pressure and I screamed the place down. 

Having been through an assisted delivery, my advice would be: 

Don’t be afraid of one. The hospital staff were amazing and knew exactly what they were doing. 

Giving birth hurts, no matter how you do it. Find a coping mechanism, whether that be breathing, music or hypnobirthing. 

Read up on giving birth and what could happen. But don’t let it worry you. I had no idea that I would end up having an assisted delivery, but I did. All I care about is that my baby arrived safe and sound. 

Did you have an assisted delivery? What was your experience?

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