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Possible Changes to a Normal Labor and Delivery

Clip Number: 9 of 37
Presentation: Childbirth
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Reviewed By: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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Of course, the hope of any expectant parent is that their baby will be delivered after a relatively short labor, and without any problems.
But sometimes, unexpected problems happen and your doctor may believe that it is unsafe or impossible for you to have a regular vaginal delivery. When problems arise, there are three methods available to help you and your doctor deliver your child. These are: forceps delivery, vacuum delivery, and cesarean section.
Let's discuss forceps and vacuum deliveries. Forceps and vacuum instruments are usually used when the baby needs help moving down the birth canal. Forceps are made of metal, with two curved plates that fit snugly around the baby's head. A vacuum instrument has a cup that grasps the baby's head with suction. After either the forceps or vacuum instrument is in place, doctor gently pulls the baby out of the birth canal. These methods may be used, for example, when labor slows down too much, the baby show signs of being in trouble, or the mother has become exhausted from labor and is too tired to push.
A cesarean section is a major operation, where the doctor makes incisions, or cuts, through the abdomen and uterus in order to deliver the baby. The decision to have a cesarean delivery can be made before or during labor. For example, a c-section may be planned before labor begins if the doctor knows ahead of time that the baby's position or size may make it difficult or impossible to move out of the uterus and birth canal. Or the mother may have a medical condition, such as high blood pressure, that would make a c-section safer than a vaginal delivery.
After labor starts, c-section may be needed because the cervix fails to dilate during labor, heavy bleeding occurs, or the baby shows signs of trouble.
The majority of the time, these delivery methods are used to DECREASE possible harm to the mother and child when problems arise.

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