Assisted Vaginal Delivery

An assisted vaginal delivery also called instrumental delivery, is vaginal delivery of a baby done accomplished with the help of forceps or a vacuum device.

Forceps-Assisted Delivery

Forceps look like two large salad spoons. The doctor or OB/GYN insert them into the vagina and place them on the baby’s head. The doctor or OB/GYN then applies traction with the use of forceps to guide the baby’s head out of the birth canal. The mother will push the baby the rest of the way out.

Vacuum-Assisted Delivery

A vacuum device is a suction cup with a handle attached to it. The doctor or OB/GYN place the suction cup in the vagina and places it on top of the baby’s head. The doctor or OB/GYN uses well-controlled traction to help guide the baby’s head out of the birth canal. The mother will push the baby the rest of the way out.

Why and when is an assisted delivery needed?

An assisted delivery is needed when:

  • The baby’s head has not moved down the birth canal even after your cervix is fully dilated (open) and you have been pushing for a long time.
  • You are unable to push any longer because of your tires from a long labor.
  • A medical problem makes it risky for you to push or limits your ability to push.
  • The baby shows signs of stress.
  • There are concerns about the baby’s irregular heart rate pattern.

What are the benefits of assisted vaginal delivery?

The main benefit of assisted vaginal delivery is that it avoids a C-section or cesarean delivery. C-section is a surgical procedure, which carries the risk of heavy bleeding and infection. Even if done with assistance, recovery from a vaginal delivery is shorter than recovery from a cesarean delivery.

What are the risks of assisted vaginal delivery?

Assisted vaginal delivery is associated with a small risk of injury to the mother. There may be tears or injury to the tissues of the vagina, perineum, and anus. There may be problems with urinating or moving your bowels after delivery. These incontinence problems may go away on their own, or treatment may be needed.

There may be a risk of some bruising or injury to the baby. The process may result in some bumps, bruises, or marks on the baby’s head or face. There may be problems with the nerves located in the arm and face. They will heal in a few days or weeks. Rarely, there may be bleeding inside the baby’s head.

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