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Ventouse delivery: what to expect

A ventouse is a soft or hard plastic or metal vacuum cup that’s attached to baby’s head to assist delivery… and is rarely part of a pregnant mama’s birth plan. But knowing what to expect and understanding why your doctor or midwife might recommend a ventouse can help you feel more in control and calm if you do end up needing one.

About one in eight babies in the UK are born with the help or either forceps or a ventouse. You might need a ventouse to help delivery a baby if your baby is not moving out of of the birth canal as expected, there are concerns about you or your baby’s wellbeing, or if you can’t - or have been advised not to - push.

You’ll be asked to give your consent before a ventouse is used. You might also be moved to an operating theatre for the ventouse in case you need a caesarean section. The doctor will wait until you’re having a contraction and then ask you to push while they gently pull to help baby out. They may need to pull more than once.

It’s normal to feel bruised and sore after birth, particularly if you’ve had an assisted delivery. As you’re more likely to have an episiotomy during an assisted birth, stitches and swelling may make going to the toilet painful. But you are less likely to experience vaginal tearing with ventouse than with forceps.

Most women will physically recover from an assisted birth within a few weeks. But sometimes it takes longer to mentally recover. If you’re struggling, please do speak to someone. You can also request a birth debrief with your midwife to discuss what happened, why it was necessary and how it made you feel.