In vacuum extraction, a rubber dome is placed on the baby’s head, and this is connected by a tube to a pressure suction device. The doctor then pulls the baby’s head using the vacuum pressure created in the dome until the baby exits the birth canal.
This is a relatively safe method of birthing, yet it carries quite a few risks for the newborn and the mother.
“We never choose a vacuum extraction if there is an option to have a normal birth,” explained Prof. Tal Biron, chairperson of the Mother and Fetus Society and director of the women’s and midwives department at the Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba, who headed a team of experts who wrote new guidelines for the vacuum extraction procedure. “It is performed when the baby’s head is too low in the birth canal to perform a caesarean section… In such a situation, we have to rescue the baby using the vacuum within a few minutes so that it does not suffer any damage.”
What are the new guidelines for vacuum extraction births?
The new guidelines state, among other things, that vacuum extraction births will only be performed in hospitals, by a qualified delivery room doctor, and in the presence of a midwife and a pediatrician, whose role it is to examine the fetus after it is born. If the baby is found to be in any distress, he will be rushed to further treatment at the nearby nursery.
The reports of death as a result of vacuum extraction are rare: the risk is 0.1 to 3 cases per thousand vacuum births. But still, such a birth includes the risk of cranial bleeding, scalp injuries, and rare complications for the mother, which include incisions and bladder or rectal incontinence.
“Our main message is to involve the mother in all stages of the decision and to maintain the safety of the baby and the mother as we always do,” Prof. Biron concludes.