Assisted Vaginal Birth
Birthing occurs by the coordinated and rhythmic contractions of the uterus to push your baby out of the womb. Sometimes, this process is not possible or becomes difficult, and requires external assistance to deliver your baby vaginally. Assisted vaginal birth is a procedure in which specially designed instruments are used to aid a vaginal delivery. It is usually recommended if your baby is not moving through the birth canal despite pushing, there are problems with your baby’s wellbeing, or if you cannot or are advised against pushing during delivery.
Before assisting the delivery, a local anaesthetic injection is given inside the vagina (pudendal block) or an epidural or spinal block may be given for pain relief. Forceps and vacuum (ventouse suction) are two methods commonly used to assist in the vaginal birthing process.
- Ventouse birth: A ventouse or vacuum extractor is an instrument that has a plastic or metal cup attached to a vacuum source. The cup is attached to your baby’s head by suction and your baby is gently pulled by your doctor when you have a contraction.
- Forceps birth: Forceps are large metal tongs or curved spoons placed around your baby’s head. With the help of these forceps, your doctor gently pulls and delivers your baby when you have a contraction.
Both these methods are safe and effective; your doctor will select the one most appropriate for your situation.
As with any procedure, assisted vaginal birth may involve certain risks and complications which include bleeding, vaginal tears and blood clots in your legs and pelvis veins.