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Operative Vaginal Delivery

By

Julie S. Moldenhauer

, MD, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Last full review/revision Jul 2021
CLICK HERE FOR THE PROFESSONAL VERSION
Topic Resources

Operative vaginal delivery is delivery using a vacuum extractor or forceps.

Forceps are metal surgical instruments with rounded edges that fit around the fetus’s head. Rarely, using forceps bruises the baby or tears the area between the opening of the woman’s vagina and anus (called the perineum).

Vacuum extraction or forceps delivery may be required in the following situations:

  • When the fetus is in distress

  • When the woman becomes too tired to push effectively

  • When labor is prolonged

  • When the woman has a disorder (such as some brain or heart disorders) that make vigorous pushing inadvisable

Using Forceps or a Vacuum Extractor

Forceps or a vacuum extractor may be used to help with delivery. Forceps are placed around the baby’s head. A vacuum extractor uses suction to adhere to the baby’s head. With either device, the baby is gently pulled out as the woman pushes.

Using Forceps or a Vacuum Extractor
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Test your knowledge
Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression is a feeling of extreme sadness and related psychologic disturbances after delivery of a baby. Although it is common to feel sad or miserable within 3 days of delivery (the baby blues), these feelings usually go away within 2 weeks. Postpartum depression is a more serious mood change. Women in which of the following groups are at increased risk for this condition?
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