When are vacuum extractors used?

A. Due to the risks, vacuum extraction delivery should only be attempted when certain obstetric conditions are met. The major indications for vacuum extraction include a prolonged second stage of labor, non-reassuring fetal status, maternal exhaustion, and the presence of maternal illness that would make “bearing down” or pushing efforts too risky.

Vacuum Extractors During Childbirth

When shouldn’t vacuum extractors be used?

There are several instances in which a vacuum extraction delivery should never be performed. Vacuum extractors should never be used when (1):

  • The baby is less than 34 weeks gestation. There is a risk of fetal intraventricular hemorrhage (bleeding in the brain) at these ages.
  • Cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD) is present. This is when the mother’s pelvis is too small for the size or position of the baby, thereby making it impossible for the baby to navigate the birth canal.
  • Baby’s head is not low and in the correct position.
  • Prior scalp sampling or multiple attempts at fetal scalp electrode placement are contraindications because these procedures may increase the risk of cephalohematoma (bleeding under the skin of the head) or external bleeding from the scalp wound.
  • Fetal issue that affects the strength of the baby’s bones, such as hemophilia or osteogenesis imperfecta.
Vacuum extractor; vents; fetal head injury; smbgaleal hematoma; intracranial hemorrhage; nuchal cord; vacuum extraction; subarachnoid hemorrhage; infant brain damage; neonatal brain injury

Improper use of vacuum extractors can cause permanent neonatal brain damage

Trusted vacuum extractor attorneys serving nationwide

Jesse Reiter 2

Award-winning birth injury lawyer Jesse Reiter, founder of ABC Law Centers (Reiter & Walsh, P.C.), has been focusing solely on birth injury cases for over 28 years, and most of his cases involve hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) and cerebral palsy. Birth injury lawyers Jesse Reiter and Rebecca Walsh are currently recognized in Best Lawyers/U.S. News and World Report, which also recognized ABC Law Centers in Best Law Firms. The attorneys at ABC Law Centers have won numerous awards for their advocacy of children and are members of the Birth Trauma Litigation Group (BTLG) and the Michigan Association for Justice (MAJ). In fact, Jesse Reiter is one of only three attorneys in Michigan to ever be elected Chair of the BTLG. Rebecca is currently co-chair of the BTLG.

If your baby had vacuum extractor injuries and now has a birth injury such as cerebral palsy, a seizure disorder, or hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), the attorneys at ABC Law Centers can help. We have helped children throughout the country obtain compensation for lifelong treatment, therapy, and a secure future, and we give personal attention to each child and family we represent. Our nationally-recognized birth injury law firm has numerous multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements that attest to our success, and no fees are ever paid to our firm ­unless we win your case. Contact us today for a free case evaluation. 

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Related Resources


  1. Vacuum extraction. (2020, August 18). Retrieved September 26, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/vacuum-extraction/about/pac-20395232