What is shoulder dystocia?

On Behalf of | Jun 17, 2022 | Birth Injuries

Shoulder dystocia is a birth injury that occurs when a baby’s shoulder gets caught in the mother’s pelvis during labor and birth. This injury can harm both mother and baby and can result in permanent damage or even death.

Shoulder dystocia can be one of the most frightening complications in the delivery room. A doctor who remains calm may mitigate a tragic outcome; however, not all cases have a happy ending.

What are the risk factors for shoulder dystocia?

Risk factors usually revolve around the size of the baby, including:

  • Macrosomia: a baby’s pre-birth weight exceeds 8 pounds, 13 ounces
  • Gestational diabetes: insulin resistance brought on by pregnancy
  • Multiple births: twins, triplets and other multiples
  • Maternal weight: if the mother is overweight or obese

Are there other indicators for shoulder dystocia?

Risky conditions during labor and birth include:

  • Oxytocin: a drug administered to induce labor
  • Epidural: a common form of pain relief
  • Unusual second stage labor: when the time you “push” is very long or very short
  • Assisted vaginal birth: when your doctor uses tools, such as forceps or a vacuum

What injuries result from shoulder dystocia?

While most moms and babies recover well from shoulder dystocia, serious complications can result. For the baby, that includes:

For the mom:

  • Postpartum hemorrhage
  • Serious tears in the perineum
  • Uterine rupture

If you or your baby suffered harm because of shoulder dystocia, you might have a legal remedy through a medical malpractice claim. You may recover medical costs as well as damages for pain and suffering.


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