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Operative Delivery


Sometimes, a baby’s head does not move as expected through the birth canal. If this happens or your doctor feels that your baby needs to be born more quickly, a forceps or vacuum extraction delivery may be performed. This type of delivery is known as an operative vaginal delivery.

In a forceps delivery, the doctor slips the rounded forceps instrument around either side of your baby’s head and uses light traction to deliver the baby. The procedure is usually performed during a contraction while you are pushing. Once your baby’s head has crowned, the forceps are usually removed and the rest of the delivery proceeds normally. You will most likely require an episiotomy if you have a forceps delivery.

Like a forceps delivery, a vacuum extraction is a procedure in which you are assisted with the delivery of your baby. Your doctor places a soft, flexible cap around your baby’s head and then applies slight traction to help move your baby through the birth canal.

Your doctor may decide to use an operative delivery if:

  • Your baby is in fetal distress
  • You are in distress
  • Lack of progress in late labor
  • To aid in the delivery of your baby’s head in a breech delivery

An operative vaginal delivery is performed if a spontaneous birth is judged to pose a greater risk to mother or child than an assisted one. There is a slight risk of complication with both types of operative deliveries. Your doctor will explain these to you prior to the procedure so that you feel comfortable about the type of delivery assistance being used. Potential complications include: Perineal tearing that may cause damage to the vagina or rectum, bleeding, or reflex retention of urine Bruising and swelling of your baby’s scalp, which will disappear in a few days.


I saw Dr. Gunter several times throughout my pregnancy and chose him to do my c-section. He was very caring and informative. My scar looks incredible! I’m 3 months PP and you can barely tell it’s there. That is amazing, because it was my second surgery! Overall, A+!!!

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