Close Close
Mother and Baby

What Happens When You Have A Ventouse Birth

If your baby needs some help to be born during labour, your obstetrician may use a ventouse to deliver him

With around one in eight women having an assisted birth, it’s possible that you may end up having a forceps or ventouse delivery. It’s usually because you’ve been pushing for a few hours, but your baby is not coming out, or because your baby is becoming distressed and needs to be born quickly.

‘A ventouse is a small cup that fits on the back of your baby’s head and is attached to a suction device,’ says Christian Barnick, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at The Portland Hospital. ‘A vacuum is created using either a hand-held pump so that your doctor can then gently pull your baby out.’

A ventouse is a small cup that fits on the back of your baby’s head

Opting for an assisted delivery

‘Your baby needs to be in good shape for a ventouse delivery – this means that he has a healthy heart rate and is not too distressed,’ says Christian. ‘You need to be 10cm dilated and your baby’s head needs to be at the opening of the cervix and fully engaged.’

Most doctors choose a ventouse delivery before trying forceps as there’s less risk of tearing. ‘But if you’re less than 34 weeks pregnant, you can’t use a ventouse as your baby’s skull is too soft and it could be damaged,’ says Christian.

Your pain relief

While a ventouse delivery is less invasive and painful than using forceps, you may prefer to have some pain relief before the ventouse is inserted. ‘We’d usually recommend an epidural if this hasn’t already been given, or a pudendal block. This is when anaesthetic is injected into a nerve in your vaginal wall to numb any pain,’ says Christian. While an epidural will numb the whole area, if the birthing team are in a rush to get your baby out, there may not be time for an anaesthetist to come down to administer it, and a pudendal block will be faster.

The delivery and after the birth

‘The obstetrician will insert the ventouse so it’s fitted to the back of your baby’s head, and then turn on the suction,’ says Christian. ‘When you have a contraction, he’ll start pulling the ventouse to ease your baby out. He can’t pull too hard as he’ll lose the suction.’

Throughout the delivery, your obstetrician should be chatting to you explaining what is happening.

When you have a contraction, he’ll start pulling the ventouse to ease your baby out

‘When your baby is handed to you, he may have a small bump on his head where the ventouse was attached,’ says Christian. ‘This is known as a chignon, and it’s caused by the suction drawing the scalp up. Don’t worry too much as the bump will go down after about 30 minutes. There may also be a small bruise and this will disappear after a day or two.’

A ventouse delivery is good for mum and baby if there is no rush for him to be born, as it takes longer than forceps but is less likely to damage your vaginal wall or result in an episiotomy.

 
Related content:

Comments

No comments have been made yet.


It’s Christmas!
It’s Christmas!

From the best Advent Calendars, to festive pyjamas, and all the best Christmas gift guides... Plus our favourite Elf on the Shelf photos! 

A mum’s wisdom: Baby’s first Christmas!
A mum’s wisdom: Baby’s first Christmas!

In part two of her new blog, mum Natasha talks about baby’s first Christmas. Brought to you by Palmer's. 

Subscribe to Mother&Baby!
Subscribe to Mother&Baby!

Be the best mum you can be and let Mother & Baby guide you along the way. Each issue is jam packed with REAL advice from mums just like you. Subscribe today & get a free welcome gift!

Ovulation Calculator
Ovulation calculator
Trying for a baby? Work out when you're most fertile to increase your chances of getting pregnant with our easy-to-use ovulation calculator.
Pregnant woman
Due Date Calculator

When is your baby due? If you’re having trouble remembering dates and counting up the days on your fingers and toes, don’t worry – use our due date calculator.

Get M&B in your inbox!

Sign up to Mother&Baby today and get news and advice about your body and your baby straight to your inbox every week.