Can I ask my doctor to use vacuum assistance rather than the forceps?

35-36 weeks pregnant, Questions/answers

Marie, I am slowly getting ready for the big day, as I am going to give birth to my first baby in 2 months. I watched your videos and thank you for all this easy to understand information. It is helpful and reassuring for parents who are facing the unknown. I was wondering if I could ask my doctor to use vacuum assistance rather than the forceps during the delivery. I don’t like the idea of the forceps, and I think about it all the time. Can you help when you have the time? Thanks, Estelle. 


In fact, Estelle, no one can say in advance if the doctor will use a specific instrument to help give birth to your baby. Also, it is essential to distinguish the use of the forceps from that of vacuum assistance.

As an example, I would say that if your baby’s head is poorly positioned, the doctor may have to use the forceps, because vacuum assistance can’t change the head’s orientation, just help with traction to assist the baby’s exit. This is why it’s difficult for me to answer your question, concretely. If the situation requires, the doctor will tell you if they can use the vacuum assistance rather than the forceps, depending on need. 

Usually, vacuum assistance can be used if the baby has already descended, if their heartbeat is fine and if your birth stagnates, doesn’t progress and you become fatigued. The baby also has to present head first (vacuum assistance can’t be used in breech births), if the pregnancy is over 35 weeks and the head is correctly engaged in the mother’s pelvis. Those are a few essential notions concerning vacuum assistance. Be confident, as most births don’t require these instruments. 

Talk soon,

Marie

The Baby Expert 

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