Forceps, suction cups: the instruments of childbirth

Forceps, spatulas or suction cups can be used at the birth of a baby. We tell you all about instrumental childbirth and the special circumstances that may lead the doctor to use these different techniques, with the advice of midwife.

According to the latest INSERM perinatal report from 2016, 12.1% of women who gave birth to a baby gave birth through the vaginal instrumental route. And if these procedures are common, they remain frightening for many expectant mothers who are about to give birth. Instruments such as forceps, suction cups, spatulas or delivery surgical instrument set are however very useful to give a boost to baby and do without a cesarean section when the situation requires it.

Forceps: what is it?

We speak of a delivery with forceps when the doctor must use instruments to accompany the release of the baby. Midwives are not authorized to do this. With parallel or crossed branches, the forceps will allow the gynecologist to facilitate the passage of the baby through the cervix.

Is forceps delivery painful?

Future mothers can be reassured that the use of instruments is not painful and this practice is performed in the vast majority of cases under epidural.

The different types of instruments during childbirth

We often talk about forceps alone when it comes to instrumental delivery. Other instruments are however frequently used. “The choice of instrument will depend on the indication, but also on the habits of the doctor who will perform the maneuver,” explains midwife.

The gynecologist will therefore not use the same tool to perform traction, or if; for example, he just has to orient the child’s head. Viewed from the outside, using forceps during childbirth can be overwhelming as the doctor has to pull hard to get the baby out.

The forceps of Tarnier, Suzor and Pajot

These pincer-shaped instruments gently grip the child’s head to help them out

Thierry’s spatulas

They are two spatulas not connected together, a bit like salad spoons.

The suction cup

It is used to gently pull the child and should be positioned at the top of the baby’s head. It is connected to a suction mechanism.

In which cases are forceps used?

“The instruments are used to accelerate or help the baby come out during a vaginal delivery, when there is a maternal or fetal medical indication,” explains the midwife. Forceps, spatulas or suction cups can also be used for cesarean section, if the extraction is really difficult. Among the most frequent indications for the use of instruments, Anh-Chi Ton cites: abnormalities of the fetal heartbeat, non-progression of the presentation, that is to say that the baby no longer descends despite efforts mother’s push.

Be careful, however, the instruments are only used under certain very specific conditions: “They are only used when the baby is engaged in the mother’s pelvis, fully dilated, and the water bag has been pierced. If the child was not engaged (presentation still high) and that there was an emergency, the team would move towards a cesarean section “specifies the specialist.


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