Labor and delivery

What is a vacuum-assisted delivery?

What is a Vacuum-Assisted Delivery?

A vacuum-assisted delivery is a type of instrumental delivery whereby a vacuum device is used to help the doctor or midwife to assist the baby during the birthing process. This type of delivery is commonly used in cases where the mother has experienced an extended labour period, or when the baby is showing signs of distress.

Advantages of Vacuum-Assisted Delivery

There are some advantages associated with vacuum-assisted deliveries:

  • Reduced Damage to Mother and Baby: Vacuum-assisted delivery helps reduce the amount of traction needed to extract the baby from the mother, which can reduce the risk of trauma to both mother and baby.
  • Shorter Labour: Vacuum assist can help speed up the labour process, making it shorter and potentially less painful for the mother.
  • Lower Risk of Infection: With vacuum-assisted delivery, the baby’s head is delivered just milliseconds after the rest of the body, helping to reduce the risk of infection.

Risks of Vacuum-Assisted Delivery

Though vacuum-assisted delivery is largely a safe procedure, there remain some potential risks:

  • Increased Risk of Injury: There is an increased risk of trauma, including lacerations to the mother’s cervix, perineal and the baby’s scalp.
  • Automatic Retraction: If the vacuum is not removed after the baby has been delivered, it can cause the scalp to become stuck and retracted into the pelvis. This can cause harm to the baby.
  • Potential for Birth Defects: In some cases, vacuum-assisted delivery may increase the risk of birth defects, such as Erb’s palsy or shoulder dystocia.


Vacuum-assisted delivery is a safe and effective method for delivering babies in some cases, but it is not without risks. It is important that the doctor or midwife discuss the potential risks and benefits of this method before making a decision.

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