What Tools Are Used During Assisted Delivery?

Surprises can be fun. Surprises during delivery? Not so much. Get familiar with the tools your doctor might use in an assisted delivery.
profile picture of Erin Meanly
ByErin Meanly
Updated
May 2017
medical tools used assisted delivery

An assisted delivery means one of two tools will make an appearance: Forceps, which look like two serving spoons and help guide the baby’s head out of the birth canal; and the vacuum extractor, a soft cup that suctions onto baby’s head. Attached to the cup there’s a handle that helps the doctor guide delivery through the birth canal (it sounds worse than it is).

Your doctor will decide which tool to use, but will only do so if she sees signs of fetal distress or if baby is in a difficult position. She might also use a tool if you’re too tired to push, have a medical condition that makes it dangerous to push, or if the second stage of labor is just taking too long, for whatever reason. Don’t be scared by them—the labor tools just help the delivery along.

Permanent injury to baby is pretty rare (as long as your doctor uses the tools properly) but ideally, no tools will be needed in a straightforward delivery. Sometimes baby will get small marks or bruises, but these side effects disappear within a few days. As for you, the use of labor tools might mean more tearing than normal and/or urinary and bowel problems. But rest assured, the doctor won’t use a tool unless she identifies a solid reason for needing to speed up the process.

Related Video

Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension (PIH)

C. Joseph Cadle, MD
OB-GYN

Unborn Baby Receives Lifesaving Surgery From Inside the Womb

Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
02/12/2019

Woah! Baby Boy Born in Amniotic Sac

Anisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Published
02/26/2015

New Study Finds Non-Invasive Test Can Detect Preeclampsia Early in Pregnancy

Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
03/13/2019

Will Baby Be Breech?

The Bump Editors

How This Baby Was Born for the Second Time

Anisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Published
10/24/2016

Jordin Sparks Says Baby's Cord Was Wrapped Around His Neck During Delivery

Anisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Published
05/07/2018

Q&A: Preventing IUGR?

Karen Moise, RN
Registered Nurse
Advertisement