What is shoulder dystocia?

Many women dream of a vaginal birth without complications; however, some women aren't fortunate enough to see that dream realized. For some women, shoulder dystocia occurs as they are delivering their baby. This is a serious medical condition that can have serious consequences. 

What is shoulder dystocia?

Shoulder dystocia occurs when the baby's shoulders get stuck in the birth canal after the baby's head is delivered. In most cases, this condition is only discovered once labor begins. If it is caught early enough, a cesarean section is usually performed to safely deliver the baby.

What happens if the mother has a vaginal birth?

In most cases, the baby can be safely delivered. The mother might have an episiotomy to widen the vaginal opening. Pressure might be applied to the mother's belly and her legs might be brought up to her belly. In some cases, the baby is turned during delivery.

What complications can arise?

The mother can suffer from heavy post-birth bleeding. She might also suffer from uterine, cervical, vaginal or rectal tears from pushing the baby out. The baby can suffer from brain damage or death if the oxygen to the brain is affected. The baby can also suffer paralysis, nerve injuries and shaking of the hand, arm or shoulder.

Monitoring a pregnant woman as she progresses through labor can often clue medical professionals into potential problems, such as shoulder dystocia. When the medical professionals fail to properly monitor the mother and baby and shoulder dystocia causes an injury to the mother or child, the family might opt to seek compensation for the injuries.

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O'Brien Batten & Kirtley, PLLC

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