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Can You Refuse Forceps During Birth? Yes, But You May Not Want To

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Childbirth is scary enough, but when doctors mention things like forceps to help your baby make their way out, it can make your birth sound less like the best day of your life and more like a horror film. But can you refuse forceps during birth or are you out of options?

Everyone wants a healthy baby, but there are some risks when it comes to forceps entering your birth plan. According to the Mayo Clinic, the use of forceps during delivery can risk injury to both you and your baby. Some of the risks to you are also risks that can happen with any vaginal delivery, but they happen more often with forceps delivery such as uterine rupture, injuries to the bladder or urethra, anemia from blood loss, lower genital tract tears and wounds, and pain in the perineum.

For your baby, there are a few risks as well, but they are rare. The Mayo Clinic noted that while minor marks on a baby’s face are normal and temporary, there’s a rare chance that your baby could experience facial palsy, minor external eye trauma, skull fracture, seizures, bleeding within the skull, and minor facial injuries from the pressure of the forceps.

But despite the risks, the American Pregnancy Association noted that forceps are sometimes needed to ensure a safe delivery, like if your baby is breech, feet first, not receiving enough oxygen, or if you’ve had an epidural and your pelvic muscles are ineffective for pushing.

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Knowing all of that, it may feel like you can’t say no. But according to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), if you take the time to make a birth plan, you can speak to your health care providers about your wishes and desires for your delivery. Although hospitals and doctors have their own set of protocols and routine, if they can uphold your wants, they will. The APA also noted that some mothers may refuse certain things in their birth plan, unless they are needed in an absolute emergency.

What to Expect suggested the use of forceps as a category to tackle in your birth plan. What situation are you comfortable with them being used in? Do you want to avoid them at all costs or if your baby’s in danger, do you prefer the forceps over a C-section? Again, you’ll have to speak with your doctor or midwife beforehand so they know your wants and they can tell you if that’s a feasible wish or if you have to make adjustments.

Childbirth Connection noted that every child-bearing mother has the right to accept or refuse any procedures, drugs, tests, and/or treatments, and she has the right to have her desires honored. Know your rights and know the situations in which forceps are used so you can make the best decision for you, your birth, and your baby.