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Are there any psychological effects after forceps delivery? 

View profile for Sahida Patel
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Forceps deliveries, while sometimes necessary to address complications during childbirth, may have psychological effects on both mothers and babies. This article explores the psychological impact of forceps delivery on mothers, signs of psychological distress, and ways to seek support. Additionally, it delves into the types of negligence that can occur during forceps delivery and how our expert birth injury team can help you.


Effects of Forceps Delivery on Mothers  

Forceps delivery not only affects mothers physically but also psychologically. The unique psychological impact varies from person to person, influenced by factors such as birth plan expectations and the circumstances leading to the use of forceps.

As forceps deliveries are sometimes used because of complications during pregnancy or childbirth, this could lead to the mother feeling anxiety or a loss of control. The use of forceps involves using a metal instrument to guide the baby’s head through the birth canal. This is not only extremely physically and psychologically distressing but the physical sensations can lead to feelings of trauma.  

In some severe cases, forceps delivery could be extremely stressful which can contribute to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This can lead to flashbacks, nightmares or anxiety related to the traumatic event.  


Another psychological impact of forceps delivery is that it can affect the early bonding between the mother and their baby. This may be a result of her own physical recovery or feelings of inadequacy. If a mother struggles to bond with their child, it may impact on their relationship as the child grows up and in the future. A mother may become distant from their child during that early time of their life as they do not want to harm their child and do not think that they are the best carer for them.    


Following forceps delivery, a mother can experience extremely complex emotions. They may blame the child for their pain and feel guilt for being disconnected from their child. They may also experience feelings of shame and isolation.   


Due to the stressful nature of a forceps delivery, a mother may begin to worry about future pregnancies. As the anticipation of a similar experience can cause anxiety and stress during subsequent pregnancies, which could result in them changing their family planning and could impact their wider family relationships.


Psychological Effects and Signs of Birth Trauma  

Psychological effects from birth trauma can manifest in various ways, including:  

Flashbacks or Intrusive Memories  

A woman who has given birth during traumatic labour may recall distressing memories and flashbacks of the event, causing her even more anxiety. In some cases, mothers may also has recurrent nightmares relating to the event which could cause them anguish. Due to anxiety or nightmares, a mother may find it difficult to fall asleep which would greatly impact their mental health.     


Negative moods/emotions

A mother who has suffered a traumatic birth, may experience persistent feelings of sadness or depression. As a result, they may become easily angry or irritable when discussing the traumatic birth. This could lead them to isolate themselves from their loved ones as to not be further triggered.    


Appetite Changes  

Some mothers who have experienced a traumatic birth, go through significant changes in their eating habits. 

A mother to may stop looking after their own physical needs to ensure that their child is constantly being supervised. Loss of appetite or overeating can be indicative of emotional distress.      


Difficulty Bonding with the Baby

A mother may find it difficult to form strong emotional bonds with their newborn baby. They may be so focused on taking care of them to ensure nothing else occurs to cause them distress that the mother does not form connections with the child.


Support for Parents with Psychological Effects  

Parents facing psychological distress after a traumatic birth can seek support through various avenues:  

Medical and Mental Health Professionals  

Should a parent exhibit signs of psychological distress following a traumatic birth, it is critical for them to seek professional help. Mental health professionals with experience in perinatal mental health can provide support and counselling.  

It is important for a parent to be offered support and effective communication from their healthcare providers should they need it. This could also include explaining the reasons for the forceps delivery, discussing complications and addressing the psychological aspects of the experience which could be extremely beneficial for mothers and would help them process their emotions. Open communication with professionals would allow a parent to understand the situation as well as clarify any concerns. It would also allow the medical professionals to monitor the parent to ensure they are getting the correct treatment following the incident.   


Postpartum Doula Services  

Postpartum doulas are trained professionals who provide practical and emotional support to parents in the postpartum period. They can offer assistance with newborn care, household tasks and emotional well-being. However, it is worth noting that Doulas are not required to be medically trained


Support Groups  

Joining support groups for parents who have experienced traumatic births can be beneficial. This would allow parents to share their experiences, discuss coping mechanisms and realise that they are not alone. Knowing that there are others that have been through a similar experience can help alleviate some of the guilt and isolation following a traumatic birth.   



It is important for parents to take some time out of parenting to make sure they are looking after their own wellbeing and needs. Parents should prioritise exercise, mindfulness, or their own hobbies.     


Counselling and Therapy  

If both parents are affected by the birth trauma, couples might benefit from going to therapy/counselling together. This can help improve communication between them as well as facilitate honest discussion about how they were affected.    


Educational/Online Resources  

Parents might find it difficult to understand the psychological impact of a traumatic birth so learning about the recovery process may be empowering. There are a number of online and education resources dedicated to perinatal mental health including blogs, books, forums etc. Organisations that provide information and support including The Birth Trauma Association  and Home – PANDAS Foundation UK. 


Types of Negligence in Forceps Delivery  

  Negligence in forceps delivery can occur due to several factors:  


Informed Consent  

Failure to provide adequate information regarding risks, benefits, and alternatives to forceps delivery during the informed consent process.  


Inadequate Assessment of Diagnosis  

Incorrectly assessing the need for forceps delivery and failing to consider alternative options.  


Incorrect Use of Forceps  

Improper application or incorrect use of forceps, resulting in injuries to both mother and baby.  


Failure to Monitor and Respond to Distress  

Negligence in recognising signs of foetal distress and maternal wellbeing during forceps delivery.  


Lack of Adequate Resources  

Substandard care due to insufficient staffing or equipment for forceps delivery. 


How we can help ? 

In cases of negligence during forceps delivery, affected parties may have legal grounds to pursue medical negligence claims. Our experts specialise in birth injury and can assess specific circumstances and whether you have a claim. If you think you might have a claim, contact us today.  



Understanding the psychological effects of forceps delivery on mothers and babies is essential for providing adequate support. Additionally, recognising types of negligence during forceps delivery highlights the importance of informed consent, proper assessment, and monitoring, emphasising the need for legal recourse when negligence occurs. By addressing both the psychological and legal aspects, we can work towards ensuring a more supportive and accountable healthcare environment for families experiencing forceps deliveries.