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Assisted delivery methods are used to help your doctor deliver your baby when a normal vaginal delivery becomes unsafe or impossible. The three types of assisted delivery include cesarean section (c-section), forceps delivery, and vacuum delivery. While each type of assisted delivery has its own risks, these methods generally decrease the chance of harm to both the mother and child.

Assisted Delivery Options

The hope of any expectant parents 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 assisted delivery methods are:

Forceps and Vacuum Delivery

A forceps delivery or vacuum delivery is performed 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 the forceps or vacuum instrument is in place, the doctor will attempt to gently pull the baby down the birth canal. A forceps delivery or vacuum delivery may be used, for example, when:
  • Labor slows down too much
  • The baby shows signs of being in trouble
  • The mother has become exhausted from labor and is too tired to push.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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