Forceps and Vacuum Delivery135
About one in eight women have an assisted birth where forceps or a Ventouse suction cup are used to help the baby out of the vagina.
This is because:
- your contractions aren't strong enough,
- your baby has moved into an awkward position,
- your baby is distressed,
- and/or you're too exhausted.
Both Ventouse and forceps are safe, but a paediatrician may be present to check your baby's health. A local anaesthetic is usually given to numb the birth canal (the passageway the baby travels to be born, from womb to vagina) if you haven't already had an epidural or spinal anaesthetic. If your obstetrician has any concerns, you may be moved to a theatre so that a Caesarean section can be carried out if needed.
As the baby is being born, a cut (episiotomy) may be needed to make the vaginal opening bigger. Any tear or cut will be repaired with stitches. Depending on the circumstances, your baby can be delivered on to your tummy, and your birthing partner may still be able to cut the cord if they want to.
A Ventouse (vacuum extractor) is an instrument that uses suction to pull the baby out. A soft or hard plastic or metal cup is attached by a tube to a suction device. The cup is attached to your baby's head, and when the machine is switched on, the cup sucks your baby's head. Along with a contraction and your pushing, the obstetrician gently pulls to deliver your baby. The suction cup can leave a small mark on your baby's head, called a chignon. The cup may also leave a bruise on your baby's head, called a cephalhaematoma. A Ventouse can't be used if you're giving birth at less than 34 weeks of pregnancy, because your baby's head is too soft. A Ventouse is less likely than forceps to cause vaginal tearing.
Forceps are smooth metal instruments that look like large spoons or tongs. They're curved to fit around the baby's head. The forceps are carefully positioned around your baby's head and joined together at the handles. With a contraction and your pushing, an obstetrician gently pulls to help deliver your baby. There are many different types of forceps. Some forceps are specifically designed to turn the baby to the right position to be born, for example, if your baby is lying with its back to your back. Forceps are more successful than a Ventouse in delivering babies. Forceps can leave small marks on your baby's face, but these will disappear with time.
You will usually be fitted with a catheter (a small tube that fits into your bladder) for up to 24 hours. You're more likely to need this if you've had an epidural because you may not have fully regained feeling in your nerves. You may need antibiotics. You may also be prescribed a course of treatment to prevent blood clots (thrombosis).