Health A-Z

Vacuum-assisted delivery

Clinical Definition

Vacuum-assisted delivery is a type of obstetrical intervention used to deliver a fetus vaginally. A suction device, referred to as a vacuum, is attached to the skull to assist with vaginal delivery. A vacuum-assisted delivery may be implemented in cases of fetal distress in order to deliver the baby quickly. Possible complications of a vacuum-assisted delivery include shoulder dystocia and scalp injuries.

In Our Own Words

Vacuum-assisted delivery is a procedure that is sometimes used to help with childbirth when the mother’s contractions and pushing are not enough to deliver the baby, when there are signs of fetal distress, or there is trouble with the baby’s position. A small soft cup is placed on the baby’s head with suction, giving the doctor a handle, and leverage to help move the baby through the birth canal. A vacuum-assisted delivery may be recommended when labor is prolonged, and the mother is too tired to push effectively.

Symptoms and Side Effects

  • Possible skull fracture
  • Shoulder dystocia
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