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Top Tips to Avoid a Forceps or Vacuum Birth


The possibility of a forceps or vacuum assisted birth is one of the scariest things about labour. I had a vacuum birth on my first labour and ended up with a 3rd degree tear. Ouch!

But what I didn't know then and I wish I did, was that there are lots of things you can do to reduce your risk of needing either a vacuum or forceps birth. Here are my top 5 tips

  1. Avoid the Epidural -Epidurals are a great tool for pain relief but they do slow down labour and reduce mobility both of which increase your risk of an instrumental birth. There are lots of non medical pain relief tools you can learn such as acupressure, TENS, aromatherapy, hypnobirthing, breathing etc. And I teach all of them in my workshops.

  2. Labour Upright, Forward and Open (UFO). You may have heard birth workers use this term UFO before and it is so important. Labouring in a UFO position will give your baby up to 30% more room in the pelvis. If baby has more room then it is less likely to get stuck and need help. Instrumental births are often due to baby being in a less than optimal position. Having mum in a UFO position will give baby the maximum amount of space allowing them to get into a better position for birth and reducing the need for any instrumental assistance. Even if you are on the bed there are many comfortable positions you can use which are upright and forward but they will keep your pelvis open and make it easier for baby to get into a good position for birth.

  3. Avoid coached pushing. Holding your breath during pushing (known as coached pushing) can increase the risk of labour slowing and your baby getting into distress. Instead breathe your baby out. Even if you have an epidural and need to be coached by your midwife to know when to push you can still breathe while your push. You can learn more how to breathe your baby out in my Breathing Techniques for Labour Prerecorded course on my online courses page.

  4. Avoid an induction if at all possible. Research shows that they increase your risks of an instrumental birth. 15% of women who have their labour induced will need an instrumental delivery.

  5. Request intermittent monitoring using a doppler rather than continuous monitoring using a CTG as favored by most hospitals. Again research shows that CTG increases your risk of forceps and caesarean birth due to the high false positive rate with the CTG. Using a doppler every 15minutes will allow your midwife to check babies heartbeat without increasing risks to you or baby.

  6. Allow time in the pushing stage. Many hospitals put a time limit of between 1 and 2 hours for the pushing stage of labour . Bur results of one study showed that that 95 per cent of women who were having their first baby got through the 'pushing' stage in three hours and 20 minutes without an epidural. With an epidural, the pushing stage of labour was five hours and 40 minutes for 95 per cent of the women in the study – two hours longer. So if baby is not in distress then request more time. Do your research before you birth and find our if there are time limits in your hospital and request more time in your birth plan.

The good news is that in my workshops I can teach you all the comfort measures, positions, breathing techniques you will need to help you through your labour and reduce your risk of a forceps or vacuum birth. And I can teach you how to minimise interventions such as epidurals and inductions and write the best birth plan for you. Check out my GentleBirth page for more information by clicking the button below.

I hope you find these tips useful in helping you have the positive birth you deserve x

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