When a baby is in a challenging position, a mom is not able to push adequately, or if there’s a need to speed up the process, the provider may decide to assist the delivery. Forceps or a special type of vacuum can be used in an assisted delivery.
Forceps are gently curved metal instruments that can be applied along side the baby’s head during the pushing stage of labor. They help the provider to gently pull in order to assist the baby’s birth. Forceps are used when the mother is too exhausted to push, or when the baby’s heart rate is showing a stress pattern and delivery needs be accomplished quickly. Sometimes forceps can cause bruising to the infant’s head or injury to mom’s vagina or perineum, so your provider will only recommend them if he feels that the benefits outweigh the risks of other options.
The vacuum is a plastic suction cup that is placed on the baby’s head. While the mother pushes, the provider will gently pull on the suction cup handle to help the baby be delivered. The suction cup may cause some swelling and skin discoloration, which usually disappear within a few days. Rarely, the vacuum can cause bleeding inside the baby’s scalp. Again, your provider will only recommend a vacuum delivery, if she feels the benefits outweigh the risks.