There are two common tools used to “assist” delivery when the head of the baby is near the vaginal opening; the vacuum and forceps. Many practitioners will perform an episiotomy before using one of these tools unless you explicitly request otherwise.
The vacuum is a suction device that is placed on the baby’s head and used to “gently guide the head.” The forceps function the same way, but are shaped like tongs. Assisted delivery is most common for women who are also using an epidural or other pain medication that is inhibiting her ability to productively push, or she has become exhausted. If a provider recommends assisted delivery to a mother who is not yet receiving pain medication, they will strongly suggest the use of a puedendal block (an injection of local anesthetic into the nerves just inside of the vagina).
Side effects of assisted delivery include bruising on the head and face of the baby, nerve damage in the baby’s face, and discoloration of the face or head. A small blister on the top of the head is also common for babies who were born with vacuum assistance, and will typically resolve within two months.