Aspiration of the fetal head during childbirth: know the risks

Aspiration of the fetal head during childbirth: know the risks


Sometimes the doctor may have to perform a section of the fetal head during vaginal birth, but you should be aware of the risks of this process and all that it may entail.

Aspiration of the fetal head during childbirth: know the risks

What is the procedure for suctioning the fetal head during childbirth? How is it? Are there any risks involved? The details are as follows:

How is the suction of the fetal head during childbirth?

During the fetal head suction procedure during vaginal delivery, the supervising doctor uses a special suction machine that helps facilitate the process of the fetus’s exit from the vaginal opening.

Where the tip of the cup-like machine is attached to the fetus’s head to pull the fetus out, and it is a last resort instead of a cesarean section.

Aspiration of the fetal head during childbirth: risks and complications

As in many other operations, this procedure may have many risks to the baby’s health, but if the procedure is done correctly, the risks may be less than the risks of a cesarean section.

These are some of the risks and complications that have been documented over the years for fetal head aspiration during childbirth:

  1. Superficial wounds in the fetus’s skull

Delivering a baby with a head suction can often cause superficial injuries to the baby’s skull, even if the baby was born naturally without aspiration.

Suctioning the fetal head may also cause the appearance of a colored spot like a bruise in the position of the suction cup with the head, and this bruise often fades without intervention after 1-3 days after birth, and these wounds often heal without a trace if appropriate medical care is provided.

Sometimes light cuts or blisters may appear on the child’s head in the suction side, and their severity varies according to the following factors:

The sophistication of the suction machine used.

The number of times the doctor had to reattach and separate the suction cup before the suction procedure could be successfully completed.

  1. Hematoma

A hematoma is a buildup of blood under the skin, usually when an artery or vein is injured or torn, causing blood to leak from a blood vessel into surrounding tissues.

There are two types of hematomas that may form in this case:


This type of tumor occurs when blood collects under the tissues covering the bones of the baby’s skull. This type rarely causes any complications, and usually resolves within a maximum of two days.

Subgaleal hematoma

Unlike the previous type, the tumor here is more dangerous, and it is even the most dangerous complication of aspiration of the newborn’s head, as blood continues to collect under the scalp of the infant.

  1. Head bleeding

This is a rare case, and it is bleeding that occurs inside the skull or brain of the newborn as a result of suctioning his head incorrectly, as the suction pressure may cause some blood vessels inside the fetus’s skull to rupture.

Although this condition is rare, when it occurs, it may cause serious complications, such as: defects in memory centers and movement disorders.

  1. Retinal hemorrhage

Suctioning the newborn’s head may result in bleeding in the back of the eye or in the retina, a condition that is common in newborns, but it is not usually dangerous, but it can resolve quickly without any complications.

Although the exact causes of retinal hemorrhage are not yet known, doctors believe that the reason is the pressure that the baby’s skull is exposed to as it passes through the birth canal.

  1. Skull fractures

Bleeding around the brain area in a child’s skull may be associated with a skull fracture as well, although symptoms of injury may not always be apparent.

There are several types of skull fractures, such as:

Linear or longitudinal skull fractures, characterized by very thin fractures that do not change the shape of the head.

Compressed skull fractures, characterized as fractures in which some bones of the skull are compressed and deformed.

Occipital osteodiastasis, a rare type of skull fracture that involves a tear in some tissue in the head.

  1. Neonatal jaundice

The chances of a newborn baby getting jaundice increase when the head suction method is followed during the natural birth process. Jaundice is a condition in which the baby’s skin and eyes turn yellow, and it is a common condition among newborns.

Baby jaundice usually clears up 2-3 weeks after birth without medical intervention, and the baby may need light therapy for a while until it is completely cured.

  1. Increased chance of injury

Performing a suction of the fetal head during delivery may increase the risk of injuries to the vagina, anus, and the area between them.

  1. Urinary incontinence

Suctioning the fetus’s head during childbirth may cause urinary incontinence for the mother, as this condition is the result of wounds in the vagina, vulva, and the area between them, and this condition may heal on its own or may require medical intervention to treat it.

How to avoid a section of the fetal head during childbirth

A section of the fetal head during delivery can be avoided through the following:

Continuous support from the health care provider or the spouse can help the delivery process effectively without the need for a section of the fetal head during delivery.

Keeping you upright or at your sides with some movement will give you and your baby the best chance of spontaneous delivery.

Avoiding taking anesthetics during childbirth prevents the uterine muscles from relaxing and increases the effectiveness of natural childbirth without resorting to a suction of the fetal head.

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