The use of a vacuum extractor or a venthouse is increasingly the first choice in obstetrics for assisted vaginal deliveries. However, it's important to understand what vacuum extraction is, how it can help you during labor, and why vacuum extraction is increasingly used over forceps.
About Vacuum Extraction
Many women need medical assistance to deliver their baby safely during labor, especially if there is a complication or normal contractions are no longer working. That's where vacuum extraction can help.
Vacuum extraction equipment basically consists of a cup made of plastic or metal attached to a handle or chain, which is connected to a vacuum hose. The cup will be placed on the crown of your baby's head, with the suction from the vacuum creating a seal that allows the cup to gain a grip.
A doctor will then check to make sure no tissue from the mother is trapped in the suction grip from the vacuum. From there, you will push as you normally would during your contractions while the doctor better positions the baby. The doctor will pull your baby out until the baby starts "crowning," which basically means the baby's head has now breeched the vaginal entrance. The normal labor process can then proceed from there.
Why Choose Vacuum Extraction
There are numerous benefits to vacuum extraction for assisting in vaginal deliver. Perhaps one of the greatest is that if the baby's head is not in the right position, known as the occipito-anterior position, then the vacuum can help rotate the head as it moves through your pelvis. This makes it easier for your baby's head to make its way out, and for a proper delivery to proceed.
In addition, vacuum extraction is seen as safer than forceps delivery in most cases. Forceps are used to manually grab the baby's skull and pull it out, which can cause the diameter of the head to increase. This makes it more difficult for the mother to deliver the baby, and it's the reason why vacuum extraction makes it less likely you'll experience vaginal tearing during delivery.
Risks of Vacuum Extraction
It is possible for your baby to develop superficial scalp injuries where the vacuum extraction cup was placed on your baby's head. This can include bruising, bleeding and the development of a hematoma. These injuries are much more likely when a metal vacuum cup is used, when the cup becomes dislodged during delivery, or if the delivery is especially long. These are usually not long-term injuries, and will heal after birth.
In some cases, bleeding into the head can occur, which is known as intracranial hemorrhage. This can be a potentially serious complication that requires medical intervention, but it is also known to occur for babies receiving Caesarean section and during forceps delivery as well.
Ultimately, it's a good idea to speak with your obstetrician before delivery about what methods they will use in the case you need vaginal assisted delivery. They can explain the pros and cons of each method, and help you understand the situations where they might use vacuum extraction methods during your delivery.
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