Last updated on Jun 11th, 2021 at 12:36 pm

Many women run for the hills when you mention the words ‘assistant’ or ‘instrumental delivery’. It does sound rather frightening and the thought of needing an instrument to help deliver your baby does not sound very appealing at all. One often hears or reads horror stories about an assisted delivery with forceps or a vacuum extractor (also known as a ventouse), gone wrong. Either the baby’s eye was damaged during the procedure or he was scarred, or he has learning disabilities as a result of it. Take a deep breath: this is very unlikely to happen to your baby, should you ever need this type of medical intervention during labour.

Dr Graeme A. Naylor, a Johannesburg-based obstetrician and gynaecologist, says there is no reason why a mother and baby should suffer any damage if an assisted delivery is done by an experienced obstetrician. It is also important to remember that the forceps and vacuum extraction are not designed to pull the baby out. The aim when using forceps or vacuum extraction is to guide the baby out of the birth canal with the help of your uterine contractions pushing the baby from above. Both methods can even protect a premature baby’s head from undue pressure as well as control the speed of delivery – too rapid a delivery can cause intra-cranial bleeding within a premature infant’s skull by way of acute decompression.

By Xanet van Vuuren

When is an assisted delivery necessary? 

Subscribe to our Free Daily All4Women Newsletter to enter