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Assisted Delivery

The Procedure

An assisted birth is a birth in which either forceps or a vacuum suction cup (Ventouse) are used to aid a vaginal delivery.


Modern surgical forceps were invented in the 17th century. Although they have been modified over time, they have been in use for hundreds of years. Forceps are an effective and reliable way to assist a delivery. A specially trained doctor performs the procedure.

The forceps are placed so that they cradle the sides of the baby’s head near the cheeks and ears. As the mother pushes with a contraction, the doctor gently pulls the baby’s head downwards and guides the baby out of the birth canal.

Pros and cons of Forceps

  • There are several advantages of forceps over vacuum.
  • They do not rely on any machinery.
  • They work well even if the mother is exhausted and the contractions are weak.
  • There is a very low failure rate.
  • The disadvantage is the increased likelihood of perineal damage than with vacuum extraction.

Ventouse Delivery

The ventouse, or vacuum extractor, is a metal or rubber-type cup with tubing attached. The cup is applied to the crown of the baby’s head, and then negative pressure is created to form a vacuum. AS the mother pushes with a contraction, the doctor gently pulls the baby down and out of the birth canal.

As with forceps, there have been many types of ventouse designed in a range of sizes. The type of cup used is dependent upon how far the baby’s head has descended down the birth canal, the position of the baby’s head and the doctor’s preferences.

The different types of ventouse that are commonly used are:

  • Metal cup
  • Semi-rigid cup
  • Soft cup

The suction on the baby’s head can cause a swelling or even grazing. This disappears a few days after delivery and does not cause lasting damage.