In an assisted vaginal delivery, the doctor will use special tools called forceps to help move the baby through the birth canal.
Forcepslook like two large salad spoons. The doctor uses them to guide the baby's head out of the birth canal. The mother will push the baby the rest of the way out.
Another technique your doctor may use to deliver the baby is called vacuum assisted delivery.
Even after your cervix is fully dilated (open) and you have been pushing, you may still need help getting the baby out. Reasons include:
Before forceps can be used, your baby needs to be far enough down the birth canal. The baby's head and face must also be in the right position. Your doctor will check you carefully to make sure it is safe to use forceps.
Most women will not need forceps to help them deliver. You may feel tired and tempted to ask for a little help. But if there is not a true need for assisted delivery, it is safer for you and your baby to deliver on your own.
You will be given medicine to block pain. This may be an epidural block or a numbing medicine placed in the vagina.
The plastic cup will be placed on the baby's head. Then, during a contraction, you will be asked to push again. At the same time, the doctor will gently pull to help deliver your baby.
After the doctor delivers the baby’s head, you will push the baby the rest of the way out. After delivery, you can hold your baby on your tummy if he or she is doing well.
If the vacuum does not help move your baby, you may need to have a C-section.
There are some risks with forceps delivery, but it rarely causes lasting problems when properly used.
For the mother, they are:
For the baby, the risks are:
Most of these risks are not severe. When properly used, forceps and vacuum extractor rarely cause lasting problems.
Updated by: Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Bellevue, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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