What are the alternatives to vacuum extraction delivery?

The alternatives to a vacuum extraction delivery vary depending on the situation. When vacuum extraction is not progressing as it should, the physician must be prepared to quickly move on to a C-section delivery. There are certain situations in which forceps can be used in place of vacuum extractors, but they should not be used one after the other.


C-section Is Often the Safest Way to Deliver a Baby When Vacuum Extraction Fails

C-section; cesarean section; surgical birth; pregnancy; baby; emergency C-section

When ventouse delivery fails, C-section is often the safest way to delivery the baby

If a vacuum extractor is not resulting in prompt delivery of the baby, the physician must not attempt to use forceps.  Some conditions that require the baby to be delivered immediately include fetal distress, uterine rupture, and cord prolapse.  Sometimes physicians fail to perform an emergency C-section when one is required, or they wait too long to perform one.  Other times, the C-section may be ordered, but the physician lacks skill in the procedure, or the hospital is ill-equipped for it.  Delay in performing a C-section can lead to permanent injuries in the baby, such as cerebral palsy (CP) and hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE).

In Certain Instances, Forceps Can Be Used Instead of Vacuum Extractors

Forceps may be used instead of vacuum extractors in certain instances, such as the following:

  • When the baby is less than 34 weeks of gestation.  Forceps may be used to deliver preterm babies, in certain cases.
  • When the mother is exhausted or cannot participate in delivery, forceps may be used since they require very little maternal participation.  Vacuum extractors do require maternal participation.

Several studies have confirmed that forceps are more often successful at delivering a baby than vacuum extractors.  It has also been well documented that the risk of serious brain hemorrhage is more common with vacuum extractors than forceps.  Due to the pressure of the suction cup applied to the baby’s head, intracranial hemorrhages – especially subgaleal hemorrhages – are more common with vacuum extraction delivery compared to delivery with forceps.  Furthermore, there is an increased risk of stroke with vacuum extractor use than with use of forceps.  In general, most researchers agree that a forceps delivery is safer for the baby than a vacuum extraction delivery.  However, delivery with forceps has its own risks.

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