What is Vacuum Delivery?
Vacuum delivery is a type of vaginal childbirth performed with the help of a vacuum when there is an interruption of the mother’s labor or the child’s health is of immediate concern. When there is no recorded movement of the baby in the last few hours, the doctor will place a suction cup with a pump to create suction. This will carefully guide the baby out of the birth canal as the mother pushes. This helps to avoid the risk of the baby’s injury during a c-section besides making an efficient and effective delivery.
Who needs a vacuum delivery?
It usually takes place during the second stage of labor when the cervix expands completely and the mother has been pushing for a long time. But the process of pushing has no adequate improvement. Then the doctor may decide to proceed with vacuum delivery. Sometimes a drop in the heart rate of the baby indicates fetal complications. It will require immediate delivery to avoid major damage to the baby.
Vacuum delivery is ideal for such a situation where doctors opt to take the baby out of the birth canal rapidly. Some major medical problems may create complications from pushing.
Reasons for vacuum delivery
If there is no scrutinization of the cervix properly before carrying forward the process, it may lead to tearing and injury of the cervix. Surgical repair for cervix injury may lead to complications in future pregnancies. It is also when the mother is tired because of elongate labor. The doctor may help with a vacuum extractor to pull the baby while the mother continues to push.
The combined effort makes the delivery comfortable. Sometimes the head of the baby is in an abnormal position when there is a need for the vacuum to bring the baby’s head to a correct position. It is also to give less maternal laceration.
When it’s done during delivery?
During the second stage of delivery which is generally the pushing phase, if the baby or the mother have exposure to certain major issues the doctor may use vacuum assist extraction. Situations like when the mother is pushing but no significant progress is taking place or when the mother is too tired vaccum delivery helps.
Before proceeding to it, one has to make sure that the bladder is empty; analyzing the position of the baby’s head and keeping enough anesthesia at help. Vacuum delivery is where very less anesthesia performs. Doctors prevent to the approach of vacuum delivery when the baby does not fit through the pelvis. Sometimes the baby’s head has not progressed in the birth canal or doctors are uncertain about the position of the baby’s head.
This process is only when the baby is almost to take birth,i.e, it is far enough down the canal. If the head is not in the right place doctors opt for cesarean birth.
How is vacuum delivery done?
In the beginning, the doctor will be giving an epidural to numb the pain or he can do an episiotomy to expand the vaginal opening. They opt for cutting the muscle area between the vagina and the anus. He can also adjust the dosage of anesthesia to ensure a more effective pushing. The bladder should not be full at all.
In between contractions, the doctor will set the vacuum cups on the head of the baby and will use the vacuum pumps to create suction during the contraction. This will block the baby’s head from moving back into the canal in the middle of the contraction and will guide the baby out of the canal. Once the baby’s head comes through the canal, the whole body then becomes easy for delivery with a little push from the mother.
Indication of vacuum delivery
Often due to long labor, the mother tends to get tired due to loss of energy. This exhaustion needs external help sometimes to proceed with the delivery. The fluctuation in the heart rate of the baby is a sign that needs immediate external aid.
Sometimes the pre-existing health condition of the mother is of concern. This requires vacuum extraction to limit the time and energy of the mother. Conditions such as blood pressure, glaucoma, aneurysm, and heart problems make the act of pushing risky.
Risk and Complications of using vacuum extraction
Parents should be thoroughly aware of this regard before deciding on the type of delivery to attempt. Vacuum delivery is usually less risky, though there are risks in this process too. Possible risk to mothers includes
- Vaginal pain and damage which is the perineum
- Lack of control on urination or defecation
- Hematoma is a condition in which the vein and artery become injured.
- Damage of the vaginal area
Recovery after vacuum delivery
It will take a few weeks to recover from an episiotomy (if carried out). The tear and wounds in the vagina might hurt initially before it gets better after some weeks. Severe wounds might take some major time to heal. Experiencing some discomforts while healing is very common. One should consult a doctor if the pain gets worse accompanied by fever or sign of infection.
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Dr. Jay Mehta
Fertility and IVF Specialist
Dr. Jay Mehta is the Scientific Director of Shree IVF Clinic. He is a well-known Fertility and IVF Specialist and also among few doctors in the country who specializes in Embryology and Andrology.