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Ventouse and forceps

About one woman in eight has an assisted birth, where forceps or a ventouse suction cup are used to help the baby out of the vagina. This can be because:

  • your baby is distressed
  • your baby is in an awkward position
  • you're too exhausted

Both ventouse and forceps are safe and only used when necessary for you and your baby. The obstetrician caring for you will decide whether to use either ventouse or forceps depending on which is most likely to be safe and effective. A paediatrician may be present to check your baby's health. A local anaesthetic is usually given to numb the birth canal (the passageway the baby travels to be born, from womb to vagina) if you haven't already had an epidural. If your obstetrician has any concerns, and feels it is safer you may be moved to theatre for your baby to be born. This also means that if a caesarean section is needed, you are in the right place.

As the baby is being born, a cut (episiotomy) may be needed to make the vaginal opening bigger. Any tear or cut will be repaired with stitches. Depending on the circumstances, your baby can be born and placed onto your tummy, and your birthing partner may still be able to cut the cord if they want to.

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