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Do I have the right to refuse forceps?

Every intervention in birth is offered, and it's your choice whether or not you accept it, including in what may be an emergency situation.


Some people prefer to go straight to a caesarean rather than accept the offer of forceps, and if this is medically appropriate, this must be offered to you. Alternatively, if you'd prefer to decline both forceps and a caesarean, you have the absolute right to do that.


If you are offered forceps (or told you have to have them - which is never true - it's always your choice), you have the right to clearly understand why, and be given the time to make your decision. Sometimes there may be very little time to decide without causing harm to you or your baby, but usually you will be able to spend even a few minutes thinking about it.


Doctors may try to pressure you, but they are not allowed to do so. If you feel pressured, it's ok to say so, and to say that you want more time. They may say they'll "give you" a certain number of minutes to decide, but they aren't in control of giving you time - only you can decide if you want to go ahead with the forceps and that can only happen if you're ready to agree to it. You don't have to accept their timescales.


Of course, if you're being offered forceps, there's usually (although not always) a medical reason that means that, for your or your baby's sake, you might not have loads of time to make a decision, especially if there is a genuine emergency situation. However, even then you usually have at least a couple of minutes to think about things, to ask questions if you have any, and to talk about alternatives. This isn't always the case, though. Quite often there's plenty of time to think about things, or to give yourself some more time to try other options such as moving into different positions.


Remember, no matter what language is used, even if they say "you have to", you don't. You might feel it's the best thing for you, and that's totally fine. But you do not HAVE to.

We support you all the way - here is a link to Emma Ashworth who has lots of information about your rights and also don't forget you can find resources and more on our app !

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