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Tips on Assisted Child Birth Delivery

When You Need Help Giving Birth


Ideally your body will do all the work required to help your baby out during childbirth, but sometimes a little extra help is required. If the baby is in a particularly difficult position, goes into fetal distress, or if your labor has been extra long, there are several assisted delivery techniques to help you out when giving birth.

"Assisted delivery" is the umbrella term for a number of techniques and maneuvers to speed up delivery in the final stage of labor. These methods make use of various instruments to assist the baby out of the birth canal without resorting to surgery.

Methods to Assist You in Giving Birth

So what assisted delivery methods might your doctor use? Here are the most common ones:

Ventouse: This is also called vacuum extraction. "Ventouse" is the French term for the suction cap that will be attached to the baby's head, then hooked up to a vacuum pump which is used to help ease the baby down the birth canal. The obstetrician will work with your contractions, so that the baby is being pushed and pulled at the same time. This technique can only be used after 34 weeks gestation, though, since before that the baby's head would be too soft.

Forceps: These are like large curved tongs that fit around the baby's head. It sounds awful, but when used correctly the forceps are a safe and gentle method of assistance. Like the ventouse method, your obstetrician will work with your contractions to help pull the baby out.

If ventouse or forceps are required, you'll be given a local anesthetic if you haven't already had pain relief such as an epidural. Your doctor will perform an examination to make sure the assistance is necessary and to determine which method will work best. Your bladder will need to be emptied, so the medical staff may insert a catheter to pull the urine out. Your feet will probably be placed in stirrups so that the doctor has an unobstructed view, and you may also need an episiotomy to make room for the medical instruments.

Both of these assisted delivery methods are gentle and safe when performed correctly. Because ventouse causes less tearing than forceps, chances are good that your doctor will try that first, then switch to forceps if it doesn't work. However, forceps are more often the first choice for babies who are in awkward positions, such as sunny side up or breech.

Studies have found that, overall, forceps are the more effective method for delivering babies, but the mothers were more likely to suffer tearing and incontinence afterward. Ventouse extraction is less likely to cause tearing, but as we said above, it cannot be used prior to 34 weeks gestation.

Will Assisted Delivery Harm the Baby?

In most cases, the baby will not be harmed at all by forceps or ventouse delivery. After all, the whole point of these techniques is a faster and safer delivery.

However, everything comes with a small risk, and this is no exception. Very rarely, babies delivered with forceps can end up with temporary damage to their facial nerves or even a broken collarbone. Even more rarely, forceps can cause brain or spinal cord damage. Ventouse, on the other hand, is much gentler and usually only causes a small mark or bruise on the baby's head. Babies delivered via vacuum extraction may also have a slightly elongated head for a few days -- but don't worry, it's temporary.

How Will I Feel Afterwards?

Giving birth will always cause some soreness afterwards, but it may be exacerbated by an assisted delivery. You may have some internal bruising from the forceps and probably some extra stitches due to tearing or an episiotomy. Don't worry, you'll heal up soon. Ask your doctor or midwife for some pain relief if the discomfort gets too bad.

Our bodies are usually pretty good at getting babies out on their own, but every now and again we might need a little assistance. Luckily, there are gentle methods such as ventouse and forceps to help us along.

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