What Is Shoulder Dystocia?

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When it comes to giving birth, several risks may occur, even with all the medical advancements of the last one hundred years. The potential for these risks can make childbirth – which is already a nerve-racking experience – seem even scarier.

When you consider that some risks that come with childbirth can come because of medical malpractice (which is when a doctor or medical professional makes a mistake during your treatment that results in injury or worse to whoever they’re treating), the whole experience might seem even scarier.

One of these things might even be shoulder dystocia, which is something that can happen during childbirth to your child – and it can even have consequences on the mother as well.

 

What Is Shoulder Dystocia?

Shoulder dystocia is when the baby’s head has breached the cervix but one of the shoulders becomes stuck behind the mother’s pubic bone. When this happens, it can delay the birth. In this specific case, doctors will likely need to enlist additional help to release the baby’s shoulder.

However, if they do it wrong, they could permanently injure the baby. If this happened to your baby, you might be a victim of medical malpractice and you may require the aid of an experienced infant broken or fractured bone lawyer.

 

What Are The Causes of Shoulder Dystocia?

It might seem scary, but shoulder dystocia can happen to any pregnant woman. Although some factors, called “risk factors,” might make it more likely, shoulder dystocia might end up as a happenstance situation that can’t be prepared for.

Unfortunately, even with the list of risk factors, it can be challenging for providers to predict or prevent shoulder dystocia in your baby.

When it comes to shoulder dystocia, some risk factors include:

  • Having a heavy baby (one that weighs more than 8 pounds, 13 ounces (the more your baby weighs, the more likely it is that you’ll need to have a c-section, which can prevent shoulder dystocia).
  • Having preexisting diabetes or gestational diabetes. Diabetes is a risk factor because women who have gestational diabetes tend to have babies that weigh more (see the first point).
  • Having had a baby suffer from shoulder dystocia in a previous pregnancy.
  • Having multiple babies at one time (twins, triplets, quadruplets, etc.)
  • Being overweight before pregnancy or becoming overweight during pregnancy.

Additionally, some factors might occur during labor that might also increase the chance of shoulder dystocia:

  • Using oxytocin to induce labor.
  • Using a pain aid to help make labor easier, such as an epidural.
  • Having a very short or very long second stage of labor (the part of labor where you push and eventually give birth to your baby).
  • Having an operative vaginal birth/assisted vaginal birth, which is when the doctor will use tools (e.g., forceps or a delivery-vacuum) to help the baby make it through the birth canal.

 

Consequences of Shoulder Dystocia

Luckily, most mothers and babies will recover just fine from instances of shoulder dystocia. There are, of course, some rare cases that count as outliers. However, although they might recover, they might still have to deal with the following issues.

For babies:

  • Fractures may happen in the collarbone or the arm.
  • Damaged brachial plexus nerves (these are the nerves that go from the spinal cord in the neck to the arm, and they’re the ones that provide feeling and movement in the arms, shoulder, and hands.)
  • Although this one is quite rare, neonatal asphyxia can cause brain damage or even death to the baby.

For the mother: 

  • Postpartum hemorrhaging, which is when the mother experiences extremely heavy – potentially deadly – amounts of bleeding after they give birth.
  • Tearing of the perineum – severe enough that they might need surgery.
  • Uterine rupturing, which is when the uterus tears during labor. Although this happening is rare, it is still very possible.

 

Medical Malpractice

Shoulder dystocia is one of the potential consequences of an atypical birth. If you suffered this, you might be eligible for a medical malpractice claim. Seek out birth injury lawyers in PA that specifically work within this sphere, so that you know you’ll get quality service from the lawyer.

If you have a settlement claim and you succeed with it, you might end up with the funds necessary to give your child the life you want for them. Additionally, funds that end up being used for special needs situations – such as what your child might be experiencing especially those suffering from a brachial plexus birth injury – don’t count as taxable income and they also accrue interest. This can help your child be financially secure throughout their life. 

Whatever your specific needs, if you or your child ends up experiencing shoulder dystocia, make sure to do whatever you need to do for you and yours to receive the justice you deserve. Call the team at Mceldrew Young Purtell Merritt for a free consultation at (866) 721-8431, or fill out our contact for here.