Forceps are used in a graded system: high, mid, and low or outlet forceps. When you hear of the forceps horror stories it was usually from the high forceps, which has now nearly universally been replaced by cesarean section.
Mid forceps has mostly been replaced by the use of vacuum extraction and cesarean, leaving only low or outlet forceps to be used.
Forceps have different properties than the vacuum extractor:
- Can be used to turn a baby in a different position (i.e. posterior baby)
- Can cause more trauma to mother's tissues
- Can cause less trauma to baby