A little extra help with baby's delivery
Assisted delivery is when your doctor uses forceps or ventouse to help your baby into the world. It happens in around 1 in every 8 births
At a glance
- Forceps or ventouse may be used to help your baby into the world
- An assisted delivery helps a swift and safe delivery of your baby
- You will be offered an epidural or given local anaesthetic before an assisted delivery
The words 'assisted delivery' aren't music to many mum’s ears, especially if you are determined to have a natural and 'hands off' approach to birth as possible. However, if your baby is in an awkward position, showing signs of distress or if you have been labouring for hours and are becoming too tired to push effectively, your doctors might decide that using forceps or ventouse is the best course of action to deliver your baby swiftly and safely. Your baby could have marks from the equipment but these fade over the first few days.
If your doctors do decide to use forceps or ventouse, you will be asked to lie on the bed with your feet in stirrups. Your doctor will then use either piece of equipment to gently pull your baby out while you push with each contraction.
Your doctor or midwife should discuss with you the reasons for having an assisted birth and your consent will be needed before the procedure will be carried out
The procedure requires you to lie on the bed with your feet in stirrups. Your doctor will then use either piece of equipment to gently pull your baby out while you push with each contraction.
Forceps are smooth metal instruments that look like a large pair of metal spoons or tongs, joined together at the handles. Your doctor will carefully position them around your baby's head to turn the baby to the right position to be born. Your baby might be left with some small marks on their face after a forceps delivery, but these will quickly fade. Whilst forceps are more likely to cause vaginal tearing than a ventouse, they are more successful at delivering the baby.
A ventouse is a soft or hard vacuum cup which fits firmly on your baby's head and is attached by a tube to a suction device. The soft or hard plastic or metal cup. Your baby will be left with a small swelling, or an elongated 'cone' head and perhaps a bruise after a ventouse delivery, but they will soon go down. If you’re giving birth before 34 weeks a ventouse isn’t used as baby’s head is too soft.
What about me?
You will be given an injection of local anaesthetic inside your vagina before an assisted delivery or offered an epidural. If you have had an episiotomy
(a cut made between your vagina and anus) for the forceps or ventouse, or if you tore naturally, you will probably have stitches and be a bit sore and tender for a while after the birth. If you’ve had an epidural, you may need a catheter for up to 24 hours afterwards. It’s a small tube the drains your bladder as when you’ve not yet fully regained sensation in your bladder you don’t know when its full.
Are there any risks to the baby?
Ventouse and forceps are safe and only used when necessary for you and your baby. Marks on baby’s head from the ventouse cup or from forceps around bay’s face usually disappear within 48 hours – along with small cuts on baby’s face or scalp which affect 1 in 10 babies. Between 1 and 12 in 100 babies might have a bruise on their head called a cephalohaematoma – this will also disappear with time.