Can shoulder dystocia lead to complications?

On Behalf of | Feb 12, 2022 | Birth Injuries

Shoulder dystocia occurs when one or both of a baby’s shoulders get stuck in the mom’s pelvis during birth. In most dystocia cases, the baby is born healthy.

That said, dystocia can make labor slow and painful, and it can result in serious complications for both you and your baby. Unfortunately, it is difficult for doctors to predict shoulder dystocia, which means it is, in many cases, unpreventable. This fact may not stop you from wanting to pursue justice if you or your baby experiences complications of dystocia. March of Dimes explores the types of issues you or your little one may experience as a result of shoulder dystocia.

Complications of shoulder dystocia for baby

Though rare, the complications associated with shoulder dystocia are severe. For baby, they may include the following:

  • Fractures to the arm and collarbone
  • Damage to the brachial plexus nerve, which is the nerve that extends from the spinal cord into the neck and down the arms; this injury can cause weakness in the arm or shoulder or paralysis
  • Asphyxia, or lack of oxygen to the body, which, in severe cases, can lead to brain injury and death

Whether your child develops a fractured arm during birth or you lose your little one to asphyxia, your damages may be plentiful.

Complications of shoulder dystocia for mom

Your little one is not the only one that can suffer complications from should dystocia. You may develop issues yourself. Those include postpartum hemorrhage, which refers to heavy bleeding after giving birth; uterine rupture; and severe tearing of the area between the rectum and vagina. The final issue may require surgery.

Shoulder dystocia rarely results in complications. However, when it does, those complications can put a new mother and her baby at severe risk of experiencing adverse health outcomes or, in worst-case scenarios, death. If your case is one of the rare ones in which complications arise, you may have a medical malpractice case.


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