A forceps delivery is a type of operative vaginal delivery. It's sometimes needed in the course of vaginal childbirth.
In a forceps delivery, a health care provider applies forceps — an instrument shaped like a pair of large spoons or salad tongs — to the baby's head to help guide the baby out of the birth canal. This is typically done during a contraction while the mother pushes.
Your health care provider might recommend a forceps delivery during the second stage of labor — when you're pushing — if labor isn't progressing or the baby's safety depends on an immediate delivery.
A forceps delivery poses a risk of injury for both mother and baby. If a forceps delivery fails, a cesarean delivery (C-section) might be needed.