DefinitionBy Mayo Clinic staff
A vacuum extraction is a procedure sometimes done during the course of vaginal childbirth.
During vacuum extraction, a health care provider applies the vacuum — a soft or rigid cup with a handle and a vacuum pump — to the baby's head to help guide the baby out of the birth canal. This is typically done during a contraction while the mother pushes.
Your health care provider might recommend vacuum extraction during the second stage of labor — when you're pushing — if labor isn't progressing or if the baby's health depends on an immediate delivery.
Vacuum extraction poses a risk of injury for both mother and baby. If vacuum extraction fails, a cesarean delivery (C-section) might be needed.
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