Sometimes during a vaginal birth the mother-to-be may require assistance to finish birthing her baby. When you have been pushing for quite some time and your doctor feels the need to intervene, he may use forceps or a vacuum extractor to assist.
Your doctor may decide to assist the delivery if there is a sudden change in your baby's heart rate or a condition in the mother that needs immediate delivery. A healthcare provider may also use forceps or a vacuum if the baby is turned in an awkward or difficult position. Too much anesthesia can cause the mother to ineffectively push and the doctor will need to assist with these instruments as well.
If your doctor recommends an assisted delivery and your membranes have not ruptured, he will break your water first. If you haven't received an epidural, your doctor will probably give you a local anesthetic before the procedure. Because the instruments require a certain amount of room in the vagina, you might be given an episiotomy beforehand.
Forceps are tools that are placed on the baby's head to turn the baby or assist the mother with the birth of her baby. The forceps look like a pair of curved spoon-shaped surgical tongs. Generally, forceps will be used when the baby is already in the lower portion of the birth canal. During a contraction and while the mother is pushing, the doctor will grasp the handles and pull the baby down and out of the birth canal. Forceps may leave small red areas on the baby's cheeks, but they will fade away within a few days. You may also notice blisters on the scalp from where the forceps grasped the head. Mothers that require the use of forceps are more likely to experience cervical tears, vaginal tears, perineal tears and tears within the anus.
If your doctor decides to use a vacuum extractor, a flexible rounded suction cup will be applied to the baby's head. There is an electric or manual pump that creates vacuum pressure and holds the cup tightly on the baby's head. While the doctor pulls the handle, you will need to push. This will help the baby move down the birth canal and out of the vagina. The baby may have a bruise on his head, but it will gradually fade away within a few weeks. Mothers that require the use of a vacuum may have an increased chance of perineal tearing, vaginal tearing and tears within the anus.
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