Shoulder Dystocia

shoulder dystociaWhen you are expecting a child, there are a whole range of emotions that go through you, but a parent should never have to worry about their infant being injured in the process of birthing. Shoulder dystocia occurs in a number of births; by some counts, the incidents are approximately 0.5 % and 1.5% of all births.

Signs of Shoulder Dystocia?

This condition occurs during vaginal births. In short, the infant’s shoulder remains inside the mother’s body after the head has exited.  According to the March of Dimes, there are several reasons why this condition may occur, including:

  • Weight factors – If a mother is obese or is delivering a very large infant, there may be a higher risk of shoulder dystocia.
  • Medication factors – In some cases, mothers who receive an epidural to relive pain during delivery may have a higher risk of having a birth involving this condition.
  • Assisted births – In some cases, babies born with the assistance of forceps or vacuum devices may have a higher incidence of shoulder dystocia.

Keep in mind that these are generalizations, and in some cases, there may be no risk factors that indicate this could be a problem.

Shoulder Dystocia Symptoms

It is important to be aware that this condition can cause problems for both the mother and infant while in the delivery room.  These complications can be very serious and may require additional follow-up care and long-term medical attention.

  • For mothers – Mothers who have an infant born under these conditions may suffer from bruising of the bladder, rectum, vagina, or cervix or may experience some hemorrhaging.
  • For infants – Infants can suffer a number of problems, including lack of oxygen, paralysis, and long-term numbness in the shoulder or arm.

Physicians who have determined the infant may be at risk for shoulder dystocia may elect to perform a c-section to avoid this condition, or if they determine that a vaginal delivery is possible, they may attempt specific maneuvers in the delivery room to avoid putting the infant or mother at risk.

Shoulder Dystocia Treatment

If you have had a baby and there was an instance of shoulder dystocia, it may be a result of medical malpractice. To determine this, you should consider some of the questions that an injury attorney may ask to evaluate your case, including:

  • Did you have any of the possible risk factors for shoulder dystocia?
  • Was your doctor aware of this risk factors and was he or she monitoring your condition?
  • Were you properly monitored during labor and delivery?
  • Did the doctor diagnose the problem fast enough?
  • Did the doctor use excessive force delivering the baby?
  • Do you believe an emergency c-section should have been performed?

While there is often no warning, women who have certain risk factors must be monitored carefully both during pregnancy and during the birthing process to avoid the damage that can be caused to both mother and infant.

Our Birth Injury Attorneys Can Help

If you have had a child and shoulder dystocia caused you additional injuries or resulted in your infant showing any symptoms of paralysis or weakness in the arms, you may have been treated incorrectly during the birthing process. A medical malpractice attorney who understands the risks associated with this condition may help you get compensation for the additional costs as well as pain and suffering for both mother and infant.

Contact our attorneys today for a free consultation of your legal options if you believe your child suffered shoulder dystocia or another birth injury due to the neglect of a physician.


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