Assisted Delivery

Assisted delivery is the term used to refer to a delivery that requires assistance using forceps or a vacuum. The intent is to have a natural delivery as much as possible and only use these interventions to help move things along. Your healthcare provider will use one of these tools to help guide your baby’s head through the canal as you are pushing.

What are the instruments used in an assisted delivery?

There are basically two different types of instruments that your healthcare provider may use to assist your delivery, they include forceps and or a vacuum extractor.

The forceps are like tongs, similar to salad tongs, except these have loops that gently connect to the baby’s head. Their are primarily used to guide, but there is also a slight pull to help you baby progress down the canal.

A vacuum extractor creates suction on top of your baby’s head. The suction or grip that is created is used to turn the head or gently pull the baby through the canal.

Reasons for Assisted Delivery:

Your healthcare provider will monitor your baby’s progress through the delivery and assess whether assistance is warranted. Here are some reasons that assisted delivery may be implemented:

  • An epidural may impede upon the pelvic muscles ability to help turn the baby’s head and shoulders
  • The best position of your baby may need shifting
  • Any signs that the baby is not getting enough oxygen
  • If you become exhausted and just can’t push enough
  • A breech position where vaginal delivery is pursued

Side effects or concerns related to assisted delivery

Here is a list of possible side effects or concerns when the birth of your baby encompasses assisted delivery using forceps:

  • A reddened area on the baby’s face
  • Small bruises
  • Temporary damage to the baby’s facial nerves.
  • A somewhat cone-shaped head

Here is a list of possible side effects or concerns when the birth of your baby encompasses assisted delivery using suction:

  • A blood blister on the scalp
  • Slight bruising on the scalp
Last Updated: 09/2008

Compiled using information from the following sources:

William’s Obstetrics Twenty-Second Ed. Cunningham, F. Gary, et al, Ch. 23.

Planning Your Pregnancy and Birth Third Ed. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Ch. 9.

American Pregnancy Association, http://www.americanpregnancy.org

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