Shoulder dystocia is a mechanical problem occurring when the shoulder gets stuck in the birth canal during vaginal delivery. This can cause serious nerve injury to the baby’s arm and shoulder. A prudent ob/gyn must use the proper procedures for such a delivery if the baby is large for gestational age. This needs to be monitored closely, especially in diabetic mothers, so that a Caesarian (C) section or early delivery can be arranged.
Certain medical conditions during pregnancy expose the fetus to the risk of shoulder dystocia, or the somewhat common problem resulting when a fetal shoulder becomes stuck against the mother’s pubic bone or pelvis during delivery. By itself, shoulder dystocia need not result in any serious or permanent injury to the fetus or the mother, but it significantly heightens the risk of a range of birth injuries. Primarily trauma to the brachial plexus, which is the bundle of nerves that radiates from each side of the spinal column into the shoulder. Injury to the brachial plexus can result in permanent damage to the newborn’s shoulder, arm and hand.
Shoulder dystocia can lead to excessive or badly judged traction by the obstetrician or midwife on the newborn’s head, neck or shoulder. This excess force exerted while maneuvering the fetus around the mother’s pelvic bone structures is what can lead to permanent nerve damage. The most important steps that can be taken to minimize the risk of this outcome are often those that can be identified during pregnancy:
- Thorough understanding of the mother’s medical history, including episodes of shoulder dystocia in prior deliveries
- Proper management of gestational diabetes, hypertension, excessive maternal weight gain or other health risk factors during pregnancy
- Planning for a caesarian delivery in cases of large fetus and small mother
Find out whether medical negligence caused your child’s nerve damage. We work closely with medical experts, and know how to identify and prove negligence by any type of treating physician, including pediatric neurologists, obstetricians and neonatologists. We also will help you seek compensation for all of your expenses, from the costs of medical care for your child to the expense of retrofitting your home or vehicle to meet your child’s needs.