Vacuum Assisted Birth: Risks and Benefits


Being born as a female is privilege, because she is the only one who can nurture a new life in herself, she is the only one who can go through the strenuous labour and still smile at her new born.

And while we talk about motherhood, don’t forget there is a father smiling from corner, asking for no credit and silently doing every single thing possible to ensure his baby’s safety. Salute to all the parents out there!

As we talk about the beauty of the birth, we cannot ignore the fact of particularly reduced birth mortality as well as morbidity. Thanks to the advancement of medicine and of course the vigilant parents who always want the best for their babies. Many techniques have been developed for the deliveries which were earlier thought to be complicated. Your doctor may have informed you about “vacuum assisted delivery” and “forceps delivery”. So let’s get to know some points and information about these techniques.

Read more: 11 Signs That You are in Labor

Before beginning about assisted delivery I would like to shed some light on what normal delivery is.

  1. Normal labour is spontaneous in onset.
  2. Baby is normal position i.e. head of baby is downwards and baby is facing backwards (known as vertex position and occipital-anterior position).
  3. Labour is initiated and termed without any undue prolongation.
  4. Delivery is done with minimal aids.
  5. There are no complications to mother as well as the baby.

Read more: 7 Common Labour Complications


But there are some cases when these conditions are not fulfilled; these cases require assisted delivery or c-section. And if you require these options then there is no reason to be worried. It’s completely fine; your baby will be as healthy as you want just with some proper care and medical attention

vacuum assisted birth

What is vacuum assisted delivery?

Vacuum assisted delivery is done with an instrument known as ventouse, it creates a vacuum between itself and the scalp of baby, thus attaching firmly to scalp, then force can be applied on the cranium to pull the baby out.

An idea about instrument:-

It is a device with-

  1. A mechanical/electric pump- to create vacuum.
  2. Manometer- to measure pressure.
  3. Cup like structure which is attached to the baby’s head.

The cup is usually of 2 types-

  • Hard cup- made of plastic or metal.
  • Soft cup- made of silicone or disposable plastic.


  1. Cup is applied to the scalp of baby.
  2. Vacuum is created and thus cup is attached to head of baby.
  3. On the next contraction mother is asked to push.
  4. And baby is pulled with the force of traction.
  5. As soon as head is delivered vacuum is removed and delivery is completed normally

Read more: 11 Things You Should Know About Preterm Labor

When and why are assisted deliveries needed?

Your doctor may suggest you this delivery if,

  1. Mother is exhausted– If during delivery mother is exhausted due to some reason, help can be given to her. Along with her force doctor can add a force from outside.
  2. Prolonged labour- Longer duration of labour increases the risk of baby getting hypoxic i.e. less amount of oxygen, so aid is given to hasten the delivery.

Read more: Prolonged Labor- Risks and Treatment

  1. Baby is in distress- During delivery heart beats of mother and baby are monitored if there is any abnormality in baby’s heart beat; baby is said to be in distress. In this case doctor will suggest assisted delivery.
  2. Mother’s health– If mother has any cardiac condition then doctor will suggest you assisted delivery. Because if during delivery the blood pressure of mother increases then it is really harmful for baby.
  3. Position- When baby is in vertex position (head down) but baby is facing in front or sideways, in such case rotation of baby is required to bring baby back to normal position, which is done using vacuum pump.

Read more: 11 Reasons for a Prolonged Labor

Benefits of vacuum assisted delivery-

  1. Anaesthesia– For a vacuum delivery there is no need of any special anaesthesia. A topical anaesthesia is applied to the vagina. Since the instrument which is used takes less space and doesn’t cause much discomfort.
  2. Part of mother– However high the pain is a mother is always ready to bear it; she always wants to take an active part in labour. In forceps delivery mother doesn’t get to take any active part, as the complete force has to be applied by the doctor. But in vacuum assisted delivery mother has to apply the force. The instrument is like a guide to the baby through birth canal. So a mother is not averted from her experience of labour
  3. Low incidence of Trauma– The trauma to mother as well as the baby is very low due to soft cups and a smaller instrument. The instrument occupies a very less space and thus does not hinder the path of delivery. This also minimizes the risk of post partum hemorrhage for the mother due to less birth trauma. Baby is also protected from dangerous complications of forceps delivery like bleeding inside the skull, skull fracture, and serious injury to skull.
  4. Usage– Ventouse is an uncomplicated instrument. It doesn’t require high level of skills. Mid wives can also be trained for its usage.
  5. Benefits to mother- If a mother has any serious health complication like heart diseases she may get exhausted early, in this case doctor may suggest vacuum assisted birth to ensure safe delivery of your baby. Also first time mother can have difficulty in applying force then this instrument can help her.

Read more: 11 Signs of Labor You Must Know


Risks of vacuum assisted deliveries-

Risk to baby-

  1. Superficial scalp injuries- Since the baby is pulled with a force with a cup attached to its scalp some bruises can occur. These are superficial and there is no need to worry about them. Now a days due to use of silicone come they are completely minimized without any kind of complications. Just the baby might be a bit irritated cause of it, so it is advisable for mother to hold the baby; it makes the baby feel secure.
  2. Chignon- It is a temporary swelling on the scalp of baby due to the cup. It was necessary for successful delivery using the traditional metal cup. It usually has no side effects and subsides within 2-3 days. But today due to the usage of silicone and rubber cups chignon formation is not needed.
  3. Risk of cephalohematoma – It is accumulation of blood below the scalp due to rupture of artery or vein. Normally it is a rare complication, and even if it does happen there is no need for any extensive treatment. The bleeding will go away within a day or two by itself.
  4. Neonatal Jaundice Jaundice is a condition where the skin of your baby turns yellow due to accumulation of bilirubin. Bilirubin is a pigment formed when the red blood cells are broken down. Bilirubin is normally excreted out of your body through liver. But since a newborn’s liver might be a bit underdeveloped it may stay in body. It normally goes off within 2-3 weeks without any complications. Vacuum assisted delivery increases the risks of jaundice since the cup may cause a superficial bruise on the scalp due to which bleeding occurs and so body has to break more red cells, in turn increasing bilirubin. Phototherapy might be required to hasten the recovery. Your baby will be kept under light, which breaks down bilirubin to less toxic form and is removed from the body. Baby’s eyes will be covered by a protective glasses so that the light won’t do any harm to baby’s eyes
  5. Retinal hemorrhage- It is bleeding at the back of eyes. It is usually not serious and goes away in some days.

Read more: 20 Natural Ways to Induce Labor

Risks to mother

  1. Trauma to birth canal- due to the use of vacuum instrument there might be superficial abrasions and tears to the birth canal. Leading to uncomfortable feeling and some pain after delivery to the mother. It returns to normal in a week when wound starts healing
  2. Post partum hemorrhage- due to the trauma and abrasion to the birth canal there may be bleeding more than expected. So there may be risk of anaemia to the mother. Hence care of mother has to be taken with respect to her diet and by avoiding any kind of strenuous work.

Care to be taken after delivery-

  1. Avoid strenuous work as it may cause more bleeding and pain
  2. Keep baby near to yourself as it will calm the baby down. (yes mother’s touch gives the baby a sense of safety and feeling of warmth)
  3. Follow advice given by doctor.
  4. Breast feed baby as soon as possible. It will help the baby for its recovery.
  5. Do not neglect your own diet and health. Otherwise complications may increase.

This was some information about vacuum assisted births. It is a great option for less complicated delivery where c-section is not needed. It also ensures the passage of baby normally through birth canal.

As it is rightly said by someone, “Giving birth is like passing though heaven and hell at the same time but at the end, that tiny life makes everything worth it.”

Hope this article was of help for all our parents!! Please share your comments/queries/tips with us and help us create a world full of Happy and Healthy Babies!!