What is Assisted Delivery During Childbirth?

Childbirth is in some ways a very delicate process, and unsurprisingly there are cases where doctors might need to help your body along to ensure a safe and healthy delivery. Assisted delivery essentially refers to any instance where a doctor uses medical methods to assist in childbirth ,and the most common methods of assisted delivery are Ventouse and Forceps delivery.

Why would I need assisted delivery?

Assisted deliveries are actually relatively common in the UK, with about one woman in every eight estimated to need some form of assistance during childbirth. Your doctor or midwife is likely to resort to assisted delivery techniques if your baby is in any kind of distress during childbirth, your baby is an unusual position during birth, or if you are too exhausted to keep pushing.

In these situations some intervention is needed to ensure both your health and that of your baby. As mentioned above, ventouse and forceps are the two main methods of intervention used in the UK today.

For both techniques you will probably be given a local anaesthetic. Local anaesthetics affect a small area, usually one about to receive medical treatment, and are designed to numb that region temporarily to spare you any pain you might experience during the procedure. In the case of assisted delivery, the anaesthetic is applied to the birth canal (the area between the vagina and womb through which a baby passes during childbirth. If you have received an epidural for your pain relief, then you probably won’t need a local anaesthetic.

Sometimes a small incision (surgical cut) is made to widen the opening of vagina to make the passage of your baby through the birth canal easier. This incision is called an episiotomy, and will be repaired using stitches after delivery.

Ventouse delivery

This type of assisted delivery involves a piece of equipment called a vacuum extractor, aka a ventouse. This piece of equipment uses suction to draw the baby out. The suction is supplied through a small cap which is fitted onto your baby’s head, and in conjunction with your pushing during your contractions, this method can help you with your childbirth.

Ventouse delivery can have a couple of side effects because of the cup that is fixed to your baby’s head. The cup can cause a small mark called a chignon, or alternatively a small bruise called a cephalhaematoma, however the advantage of ventouse delivery over the alternative forceps method is that there is a much smaller chance of vaginal tearing.

Forceps delivery

Birth forceps are highly specialised pieces of equipment that look like a particularly large pair of tongs. These forceps are curved so that they can fit around a baby’s head, As you push during your contractions, your doctor will gently pull on the baby’s head, and in conjunction the two help the process of childbirth.

There are actually a number of different types of forceps, some are more geared towards adjusting the position of the baby as opposed to helping with the actual process of pushing the baby through the birth canal. Babies often need turning so that they come out in a safe and healthy position. Sometimes forceps can leave marks on the head of your baby, but often this will disappear quickly after birth.

After assisted delivery you might have a catheter fitted. This is a tube that runs from your bladder and empties out into a special bag. This is usually necessary if you have had epidural pain relief as you can often lose sensation in your nerves for some time after birth, which can cause a loss of bladder control.

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