Delivery Room Tools Decoded

Get the 411 on all those labor tools you may (or may not) encounter during your delivery.
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ByPaula Kashtan
Updated
Feb 2017
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Don’t be alarmed when you see a nurse don a sterile hat, mask and gloves — this means you’re getting close to delivery and it’s time to set up the doctor’s table, not that something’s suddenly gone wrong with you. No need to freak out; the nurse is simply keeping things sterile. Here’s what’s being set up:

Hemostat
This clamp is used to for containing any type of bleed, holding sutures, and — most importantly — cutting the umbilical cord.

Scissors
Just in case you (Sorry! Really!) need an episiotomy.

Sponge holders
These rings look sort of like forceps, but are simply used to hold gauze

Sterile laparoscopic sponges
If you start to bleed, your doc will hold these down to control with pressure

2 buckets of sterile of water
These are used to keep everything clean throughout the delivery process.

Special circumstances

These items don’t generally start out on the tray — if they become necessary during delivery, a nurse will get them for the doctor.

Forceps
We admit, they look a little scary. These are generally used to try and shift baby’s position, and may also help guide the head out.

Vacuum
If pushing is proving ineffective, your doc will use this to pull the baby out with suction. Don’t be alarmed if your baby comes out looking like a conehead — babies’ heads are very soft and pliable, and it will look just like any other noggin.

Sutures
In case there’s a tear or episiotomy, your doc will use these to stitch you up. They come in a simple plastic package, so there’s really not much to see… though we doubt you’re paying much attention by this point.

Early delivery items

Amniotic hook
It looks a lot scarier than it feels, we promise. This long crochet-like hook is used in the early stages of delivery to break your water if it hasn’t yet happened naturally.

Speculum
This old friend is used early in delivery to open your vagina and get a better look at your cervix and dilation.

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