Approximately 15% of women will need a vacuum or forceps delivery. It is more common for first time mothers. The most common reason for this type of delivery is that your baby is not tolerating the pushing stage of labour or you have been pushing for over 1 hour and delivery is not imminent.
At this stage the doctor will be called. The doctor will examine your tummy, review the baby’s heart tracing and do a vaginal examination. Pain relief options for this type of delivery include local anesthetic or an epidural/spinal anesthetic. The doctor will decide whether a vacuum or forceps is the most appropriate way to delivery your baby. The vacuum is a suction cup applied to the baby’s head so that as you are pushing the doctor will pull and guide the baby out. It can also be used to rotate the baby’s head if it is face upwards or the side rather than a downward position.
The forceps are like metal spoons that sit on either side of your baby’s head and again as you are pushing the doctor will pull and delivery your baby. Both are safe but the vacuum can only be used after 34-36 weeks of pregnancy. In the majority of cases this type of delivery also requires an episiotomy. This is done to facilitate the safe delivery of your baby and prevent a third degree tear (a tear that involves the muscles of the anus).
The baby will usually be delivered over 3 contractions or less. A baby doctor will be present to check the baby after delivery. The placenta will then be delivered and stitches done. The stitches will dissolve within 10 days and are fully healed by 6 weeks postpartum. Keep the stitches clean with water; no soaps or disinfectants are needed. Showers are better than baths and change pads regularly to prevent infection. You will be prescribed pain relief after delivery including paracetamol and ibuprofen or difene.