Vaccum Assisted Vaginal Delivery – Procedure, Risks & more

Vacuum (Ventouse) Assisted Delivery – All You Need to Know

Giving birth to a child is one of the most wonderful feelings a woman can experience. A healthy pregnancy and childbirth are what every expectant mother wishes for. However, giving birth involves many medical procedures and sometimes complications such as slow labour may require a Vacuum-assisted birth. Well, if you are new to this term, then this article will provide you with all the information that you need to know about Vacuum-assisted delivery.

What Is Vacuum-Assisted Delivery?

During Vacuum-assisted delivery or ventouse delivery, your doctor or midwife will make use of a Vacuum to help your baby move through the birth canal. This technique involves the use of a ventouse extractor that is placed over the baby’s head for suction. The doctor helps the baby move through the birth canal while you push during the labour contractions. When the baby’s head is out, the rest of the body comes out naturally. The Vacuum delivery procedure is sometimes referred to as Kiwi delivery. This is because Kiwi is a major manufacturer of vacuum devices.

When Is Vacuum Extraction Delivery Performed?

The need for Vacuum delivery can be indicated by any of the below-listed obstetric conditions:

  • Slow progressing labour: There are situations when the mother has been pushing for hours and there is no substantial progress in labour.
  • Maternal health complications or fatigue: If the mother has some health issues where she is unable to push during labour or gets too tired.
  • The baby may show signs of distress: Your doctor may notice changes in your baby’s heartbeat or other non-reassuring symptoms that show that the baby is in distress.

Your Doctor Will Alert Against Vacuum Extraction If

Though Vacuum extraction delivery is a safe procedure, there are certain times when your doctor will alert you against it. A few such situations are listed below:

  • The baby is in a breech position (the baby is not in a head-down position).
  • The unborn child has some health complications such as a bleeding disorder like haemophilia which can be fatal in case of an injury during vacuum extraction.
  • The baby’s skeletal strength is low because of some health condition.
  • The baby has not descended midway through the birth canal.
  • The baby has undergone some scalp sampling.
  • The mother has not completed the 34th week of pregnancy.
  • The mother’s pelvis is too narrow for the baby to come out.

How to Prepare for Ventouse Delivery

When your doctor suggests a ventouse delivery, the below-listed preparations are done before initiating a Vacuum-assisted birth:

  • Epidural or spinal anaesthesia: If anaesthesia is not given to the mother, then the doctor will go for spinal or epidural anaesthesia, provided there is no medical situation causing danger to the health of the mother and baby.
  • Catheter: A catheter will be inserted to empty the bladder.
  • Episiotomy: Your doctor may make an incision between your vagina and anus for the easy delivery of the baby.

Your doctor may also suggest various other options for delivery such as caesarean delivery.

What Is Vacuum Delivery Procedure?

After preparing you for the Vacuum delivery, you will be made to lie down with your legs apart while firmly gripping the handles of the birthing bed or table. The Vacuum cup for delivery will be inserted into your vagina and placed on your baby’s head. The doctor will check to see that there isn’t any tissue between the cup and the baby’s head. A suction is created by a Vacuum pump onto the cup. In coordination with the labour contractions, the doctor rapidly increases the Vacuum suction pressure to help the baby move through the birth canal while you push. As soon as the baby’s head is out, the suction and the cup is removed and the rest of the body is delivered naturally.

What Are the Possible Complications of Vacuum-Assisted Birth?

Some of the Vacuum extraction risks to the baby as well as complications of Vacuum-assisted birth for mother have been discussed below.

Risks for mother

  • Vacuum-assisted delivery can cause pain in the perineum, which is a very common problem and it subsides with time.
  • Urinary incontinence or involuntary urine leakage.
  • Some tears may result in anal incontinence or involuntary defecation.
  • Prolapse of pelvic organs can occur which leads to weakened muscles and ligaments of the pelvic region.

Risks for baby

  • If blood vessels in the head get damaged during the procedure, accumulation of blood between the skull and inner layers of skin can occur (cephalohematoma).
  • A swelling or chignon can appear at the place where a suction cup is placed which resolves within a couple of days.
  • Blood vessels can get damaged which may cause an increased level of bilirubin resulting in neonatal jaundice.
  • Retinal haemorrhage can also occur due to increased pressure on the baby’s head.
  • Long term effects of Vacuum extraction may be caused by conditions such as intracranial haemorrhage which can lead to serious complications such as speech or memory loss etc.

How to Avoid a Vacuum-Assisted Vaginal Delivery

Vacuum-assisted vaginal delivery has been in practice for a long time now, and when used properly, poses no serious threat to you or your baby. However, if used incorrectly, Vacuum extractors can cause head trauma and brain damage that can lead to serious health conditions in the baby like cerebral palsy, intellectual and developmental disabilities and other disabilities.

One can avoid Vacuum delivery by:

  • Saying no to epidural: The use of painkillers can prevent your vaginal muscles from working well and thereby hindering a normal delivery. Therefore, epidurals should be avoided unless they become unavoidable.
  • By being patient: If both the mother and baby are healthy and there are no signs of potential complications then it is advisable to wait for the birth to happen naturally.
  • Being active during labour: It is also recommended to be active during labour and try different positions that will ease the process of pushing out the baby.

Recovering From Vacuum Assisted Birth

If you have had a vaginal tear or episiotomy, then the wound will be sore for a few days and recovery should take place within a week. Bigger or extensive tears may take longer to heal. Listed below are some of the methods to recover from the Vacuum delivery side effects.

  • Sit carefully: It is advised that you sit on a cushioned surface or place a soft pillow before sitting. Refrain from sitting on a hard surface. This will help in reducing the strain on the tear.
  • Avoid any pressure to the pelvic region: Do not apply any unnecessary pressure in the pelvic region. Do not try too hard during bowel movement as it may strain your vaginal area causing pain.
  • Apply an ice pack to the wound: You may apply ice packs to the wounded area to ease the pain.
  • Clean after urinating: Pouring warm water while urinating over your vulva may provide you relief from the stinging feeling.
  • Home remedies: You may also use home remedial measures like applying coconut oil on affected areas, but these must be done only after consulting with your doctor.

Though the discomfort and pain will be present for a few days after the Vacuum delivery, the tips mentioned above may help ease your discomfort. It is also recommended to get in touch with your doctor if you notice any fever, intense pain, or pus oozing out from the wound.

Conclusion: Vacuum-assisted delivery must only be used as a last resort due to some of the complications that arise while trying for a natural birth. However, this does not mean that every Vacuum-assisted delivery is risky. If one has a reliable doctor and is placed in a reputed nursing home or hospital, the risks should be minimal.

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