Assisted delivery: forceps and the “Kristeller maneuver”

Other ways to help the baby in the final stages of labor include the use of forceps or the “Kristeller” maneuver. Find out more about assisted birth here.

When does a birth require “assistance”?

The following reasons speak in favor of using the Kristeller maneuver or the forceps:

  • The baby shows strong signs of stress through heartbeat patterns and heart rate, from which it recovers more and more slowly.
  • The micro blood test shows a critically falling pH value.
  • You or your baby have reached the end of your physical (and mental) strength.
  • An illness prevents you from pushing hard.

Requirements for assisted birth

Certain requirements must be met so that appropriate measures can be taken:

  • Your baby’s head must go first ( cranial position ).
  • The head must fit easily through the pelvis.
  • The cervix must already be fully dilated.
  • Doctors and midwives must have a good command of the technology.

“Kristeller’s Grip”

The “Kristeller-Handgriff” should support you in the last expulsion contractions when pushing along. To do this, the doctor and midwife try to feel the child’s buttocks from the outside (through the abdominal wall) and push the child vigorously towards the birth canal during the contraction. If done correctly, this can prevent birth via  caesarean section or suction cup . However, if the handle is performed improperly, it can become a problem for both mother and child. It is important that the intervention is performed with measured force. Let me know immediately if you feel pain! Agree in advance with the doctor and midwife that the Kristeller assistance will be interrupted immediately at a signal from you.

Figure: Delivery with forceps


The forceps consists of two spoon-like indentations that are connected to each other at the handles like forceps. The arms of the forceps are individually inserted into the vagina and placed on the right and left sides of the baby’s head. During the next contraction, the obstetrician gently pulls on the head while you push hard yourself. The forceps birth only has one small advantage over the suction cup delivery: There is no birth swelling, the strain on the head is therefore less than with the suction cup. However, you may notice slight reddening of the skin or abrasions on your baby after a forceps birth, which will heal very quickly. With you, on the other hand, birth injuries occur more quickly with this birth termination, in most cases it is an episiotomynecessary. For this reason, suction cup delivery is used more frequently today.

Obstetrics with forceps

The forceps were the first instrument to help mother and child during childbirth. This is still the same today as it was 400 years ago when forceps were invented: Two metal spoons are inserted into the vagina and placed on the side of your baby’s head. Then the doctor carefully pulls your baby’s head and helps him into the world. This can sometimes cause pressure points, but you don’t need to worry, they will disappear within a few days. In order for the forceps to be used, the cervix must be fully dilated and your baby’s head must be very deep in the birth canal.

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