Ventouse birth

A ventouse delivery is also known as an ‘assisted delivery’. An assisted delivery is more common with a first baby and takes place if it is necessary to help you to deliver your baby safely.

A ventouse is a vacuum or suction cup which is inserted into your vagina and securely attached to the baby’s head. The cup is attached with a tube to a suction device. 

When you have a contraction, the doctor performing the ventouse delivery will ask you to push and will gently pull at the same time to assist you with delivering your baby. Sometimes it will be necessary to perform a small cut (episiotomy) to help your baby to be born.

A ventouse delivery may necessary if: 

  • You have been pushing for a long time and your baby has not been born. 
  • Your baby is showing signs that it is tired and needs to be born quickly. 
  • You have been advised not to push because of an underlying condition.  
  • Your baby is in an awkward position which would make pushing them out much harder. 

Approximately 1 in 8 women will need an assisted delivery, either by ventouse or forceps. 

Whilst assisted deliveries are very safe, there are some additional risks associated with a ventouse delivery: 

Risks for you: 

  • A 3rd or 4th degree vaginal tear (this affects approximately 1:8 women who have a ventouse or forceps delivery) where a tear or episiotomy extends to include the tissue and muscles of the anus. 
  • Increased risk of blood clots. You may be asked to wear special stockings and have blood thinning injections to prevent this. 
  • Urinary or anal incontinence. You will be referred to a physiotherapist after your delivery and provided with advice and information about the importance of pelvic floor exercises. 

Risks to your baby: 

  • A mark on your baby's head (chignon) being made by the ventouse cup – this usually disappears within 48 hours. 
  • A bruise on your baby's head (cephalohaematoma) – this happens to around 1 to 12 of all 100 babies during a ventouse assisted delivery – the bruise is usually nothing to worry about and should disappear with time. 
  • Small cuts on your baby’s head and face which will heal quickly. 
  • An increased risk of jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes post-delivery). This should pass within a few days of the birth and will be monitored by the midwives caring for you and your baby. 

You may also need a catheter to help you pass urine for the first 24 hours following delivery. This is particularly likely if you have had an epidural as you may not immediately feel the sensation of need to pass urine. 


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