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Increased use of operative vaginal delivery (i.e., forceps or vacuum application), of which 20% occurs at midpelvic station, has been advocated to reduce the rate of cesarean delivery. We aimed to quantify severe perinatal and maternal morbidity and mortality associated with attempted midpelvic operative vaginal delivery.We studied all term singleton deliveries in Canada between 2003 and 2013, by attempted midpelvic operative vaginal or cesarean delivery with labour (with and without prolonged second stage). The primary outcomes were composite severe perinatal morbidity and mortality (e.g., convulsions, assisted ventilation, severe birth trauma and perinatal death), and composite severe maternal morbidity and mortality (e.g., severe postpartum hemorrhage, shock, sepsis, cardiac complications, acute renal failure and death).The study population included 187 234 deliveries. Among women with dystocia and prolonged second stage of labour, midpelvic operative vaginal delivery was associated with higher rates of severe perinatal morbidity and mortality compared with cesarean delivery (forceps, adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 1.81, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.24 to 2.64; vacuum, AOR 1.81, 95% CI 1.17 to 2.80; sequential instruments, AOR 3.19, 95% CI 1.73 to 5.88), especially with higher rates of severe birth trauma. Rates of severe maternal morbidity and mortality were not significantly different after operative vaginal delivery, although rates of obstetric trauma were higher (forceps, AOR 4.51, 95% CI 4.04 to 5.02; vacuum, AOR 2.70, 95% CI 2.35 to 3.09; sequential instruments, AOR 4.24, 95% CI 3.46 to 5.19). Among women with fetal distress, similar associations were seen for severe birth trauma and obstetric trauma, although vacuum was associated with lower rates of severe maternal morbidity and mortality (AOR 0.52, 95% CI 0.33 to 0.80). Associations tended to be stronger among women without a prolonged second stage.Midpelvic operative vaginal delivery is associated with higher rates of severe birth trauma and obstetric trauma, whereas overall rates of severe perinatal and maternal morbidity and mortality vary by indication and operative instrument.