Vacuum extraction also goes by the name vacuum assisted delivery, is one of the procedures that doctors do during vaginal birth.
During a vaginal vacuum-assisted delivery, your health care unit applies the vacuum. The vacuum is a soft or rigid cup with a handle and a vacuum pump. Your health care provider will apply the vacuum to the baby’s head to guide them out of the birth canal.
This application of vacuum is usually the scenario during a contraction while the mother pushes the baby.
Your doctor and midwife might suggest a vacuum delivery during the second stage of labour. This is when you are pushing, and if labour is not progressing or if the baby’s health depends on an immediate delivery.
Although your midwifery unit will recommend a vacuum-assisted delivery to hasten your delivery, there can be potential risks. These risks include an injury for both the mother and the baby. If vacuum delivery fails, an emergency caesarean section may be needed.
In this article, we will elaborate some idea on what is vacuum delivery, its advantages, and its complications or risks. So that mums would know about its effect on them and their babies.
What Is Vacuum-Assisted Delivery?
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During your labour’s second stage, when you are trying to actively push out your baby, they may not seem going out. Sometimes, the process of giving birth seems to stall. You keep on trying but your baby is not coming. Usually, this might go on for hours.
While you are in your labour, your health care unit will check your vital signs and your baby’s heartbeat rate. This will help you and them to stay alert to any signs of fetal distress.
If your baby’s health is in peril because of prolonged labour, and labour does not have any progress, there is an option. Your doctor and midwifery unit may look for ways to assist you in giving birth to your baby.
Vacuum extraction or assisted vaginal delivery is one of the approaches they can assist. If your delivery met certain conditions, your baby’s head is low enough in your birth canal and they are in an appropriate position. A vacuum delivery may be able to help them come.
The vacuum extractor composes of a mechanical or electric pump with an attachment of a suction cup. The cup is applied to your baby’s head and the pump gives traction to pull while you are pushing. It is not always a solution that the situation needs, but sometimes it does the trick.
Vacuum delivery procedure
Before the procedure, your doctor or midwife will inform you of the risks, complications, and benefits of vacuum assisted delivery. Your doctor will offer you pain relief if you have not had any.
In other cases, your delivery assistant might need to perform an episiotomy. Episiotomy is an incision between your birth canal and your anus for the opening of your birth canal to become wide.
Your delivery assistant will carefully place the cup of the vacuum (ventouse) in an appropriate spot on your baby’s head. This will make sure not to trap any tissues of the vagina under it. On your next contraction, they will put traction with the mechanical or electric pump.
The concept is to add the force of the vacuum to your contraction force. That means it will pull when you push, and it will pause when you pause.
Your delivery assistant is qualified in how to apply just the right amount of suction to the vacuum. Too much suction might cause scalp injury to your baby’s head. Meanwhile, too little suction may cause the cup to detach from your baby’s scalp.
While applying suction with one hand, they will grasp the cup with the other hand to guide your baby’s head out of the birth canal.
If suddenly, the cup detaches repeatedly from the baby’s head, or if there is any sign of bruises on your baby’s scalp, vacuum-assisted delivery needs to stop. And, if the vacuum is successful, your delivery assistant will detach it as soon as your baby’s head is out, safe. During this time, they can now use their hands to support and deliver the rest of the baby.
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Complications of Vacuum-Assisted Delivery
Vacuum-assisted delivery may cause significant fetal morbidity, which includes the following:
- scalp lacerations
- subgaleal hematomas
- intracranial haemorrhage
- facial nerve palsies
- retinal haemorrhage
The risk of these complications can be estimated at around 5 per cent. One of the complications, cephalohematomas, is the bleeding into the fetal scalp because of the separation from the underlying tissues. This is more common with vacuum than with forceps deliveries.
Additionally, the instance of subgaleal hematomas after vacuum-assisted delivery ranges from 25 to 45 in every 1000 deliveries.
Additionally, vacuum extraction might lead to some medical complications that are pertaining to the complications of vacuum delivery. When the vacuum delivery procedure is incorrect, these side effects and complications will happen to both the mother and baby.
It can lead to Erb’s palsy, brain bleeding, cerebral palsy, skull fractures, and others. In addition to these side effects, there are several other injuries that may happen in a vacuum-assisted delivery.
Other injuries caused by a vacuum delivery include the following:
- bruising or swelling of the head or brain
- hearing loss
- severe jaundice
- skull fractures
If your baby experienced any type of birth injury from the incorrect use of vacuum, it would be considered a medical negligence.
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What are the side effects of vacuum delivery?
Also, parents may arrive at the question “What are the side effects of vacuum delivery” even if the procedure is successful and proper. Vacuum delivery may result in short-term or long-term side effects for both mommy and baby.
Most assisted delivery injuries can be visible after ten hours after birth. However, some side effects may take weeks to present.
In addition, many vacuum delivery-related injuries may be able to heal themselves within a few weeks or months span. More severe side effects can become chronic and will require intense medical attention.
Vacuum delivery side effects for mommies may include the following:
- anaemia due to loss of blood
- blood clotting
- chronic pelvic pain
- pain during sexual activities
- vaginal tearing that may lead to infection
On the other hand, vacuum delivery side effects for babies might include:
- bleeding under the brain
- bleeding under the scalp
- bruising and swelling of the baby’s head
- head that leads to misshaping
- skull fractures
- weakness or paralysis on one side of the body
Both mum and baby can make a full recovery depending on the symptom severity and treatment. It is a reminder to always consult your doctor or a specialist to medicate any injuries that happened from a vacuum-assisted delivery.
Advantages of vacuum delivery
When situations are favourable, vacuum delivery can have the advantage as help in delivering your baby from a limited oxygen environment. This may not also include surgery during the procedure. Also, it is faster than surgery, which is sometimes essential.
Vacuum-assisted delivery is a choice that a mother may decide. Ask for your doctor’s assistance if why it should be performed. And if it is not needed, what alternatives should you choose?
Image Source: iStock
This article is written by Nathanielle Torre and republished with permission from theAsianparent Philippines.
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