What is shoulder dystocia?

On Behalf of | Oct 21, 2022 | Birth Injuries

Though most births in the country happen healthily and with no harm or injury to mother or baby, that is unfortunately not always the case.

Shoulder dystocia is one instance of how birth injuries can and do affect newborns to this day.

Defining shoulder dystocia

March of Dimes discusses shoulder dystocia in newborns. First of all, what is this, exactly? Shoulder dystocia occurs when one or both of a baby’s shoulders ends up stuck in the pelvis of the mother during the labor process.

Most of the time, the birth can still happen without any incident or injury. However, in some cases, it can cause complications for the baby and mother.

Complications of shoulder dystocia

For example, the baby could end up fracturing their arm or collarbone. They could also suffer from a lack of oxygen, which can cause brain injury or death in the worst-case scenarios.

It may also result in damage to the brachial plexus nerves. They travel from the spinal cord and down the neck through the arm. When damaged, it affects the feeling and movement of the arm in question. This can result in weakness or even paralysis of the affected limb.

Mothers may experience postpartum hemorrhaging, a uterine rupture, or serious tearing of the perineum which may need surgery to fix.

Most of these issues are not life threatening and can be treated quickly in the hospital. However, risks of long-term damage or even the possibility of death exist, and rapid treatment is the major thing preventing it from happening.


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