Although unexpected complications may arise during the birth, these can normally be resolved with the expert support available to you. The option of a Caesarean section is always available in an emergency, in order to protect the health of both mother and child.
The suction cup is used to support the birth when the mother is too weak or the child has a very large head. The suction cup is made of rubber or metal and is set on the head of the child. With the help of a vacuum, a light suction is created which gently pulls the baby out of the birth canal.
The suction cup can cause a slight short-term swelling or haematoma on the head of the child, but doesn’t change its shape.
Instead of the relatively gentle suction cup, an obstetric forceps can be used.
Obstetric forceps are used during the expulsive phase if the baby is stuck in the pelvis and the mother is too weak to push.
The doctor carefully holds the head of the child with the forceps, which consist of two bent metal spoons, and pulls it gently out of the vagina. As this is a painful method, the birth canal is usually locally anaesthetized. Additionally, an episiotomy is often performed to help the head to pass through. Forceps delivery can leave red bruises on the head of the child for a short time, but this doesn’t change the shape of its head.
The obstetric forceps is an alternative to the suction cup if the suction cup is too weak to help or if the birth has to happen quickly due to a decrease in heart sound.
If the uterine contractions are too weak or infrequent, or if they cease altogether, this is referred to as contraction weakness. In this case, childbirth may be assisted by means of medication (hormones), rupturing the amniotic sac, with a suction bell or by using obstetric forceps.
If the unborn child does not receive sufficient levels of oxygen before or during the birth, this can result in what is known as anoxia. Anoxia may occur if the function of the placenta is inadequate or has ceased, or when the umbilical cord has become caught. A lack of oxygen supply to the foetus can result in brain damage, polio or even death. The unborn child’s status is thus intensively monitored during birth via a cardiotocogram (CTG, monitor of cardiac frequency).
Strong bleeding (haemorrhaging during childbirth) may occur if the placenta is expelled prematurely or is lodged in front of the uterine orifice. Under these circumstances, medical support, and in some cases even a blood transfusion, is required. In most cases, a Caesarean section cannot be avoided as the supply of oxygen to the baby is insufficient.
Two percent of all births occur in the transverse or breech position, where the baby is sitting in an almost cross-legged position on the neck of the uterus. The breech position can usually be identified before birth and generally requires a Caesarean section. This is because of the risk of harm to the baby involved in a vaginal breech birth. For this reason, the birth team should always be prepared to perform an emergency Caesarean section.