Forceps may be used to manually deliver a baby when complications such as an obstructed or protracted labour may threaten the pregnancy. The obstetric forceps were invented in England in the 17th century, but their use was kept a secret by the Chamberlen family for over a century.
A novel design of forceps was introduced by Kielland in 1915. These instruments were designed not only for traction but also for rotation of the foetal head.
Wrigley developed a lightweight, short, curved set of forceps in 1935 for application to the foetal head in the outlet of the birth canal.
It is vital to note that forceps are only used to apply traction to a head in a pelvis of adequate size, they are never used to overcome disproportion.
This section of the database should NOT be considered a manual for using forceps, but as a brief summary as to how and why forceps deliveries may be undertaken.