Shoulder dystocia is a birth injury that happens during delivery. Essentially, the baby's shoulder gets trapped in the birth canal of the mother, and if the doctor doesn't immediately resolve the situation, a tearing of nerve pathways in the shoulder can result. Paralysis in the baby's arm and hands is the common side effect. Sometimes, this paralysis is temporary and heals on its own with time. Other times, it's permanent.
In many cases, a skilled obstetrician can detect the risk factors of shoulder dystocia during delivery and perform an emergency cesarean section to circumvent the problem. The presence of certain risk factors before delivery can also point to an increased chance of shoulder dystocia.
Risk factors that can lead to shoulder dystocia
There are some common shoulder dystocia risk factors that every obstetrician needs to watch out for:
- Maternal diabetes
- Use of an epidural
- Previous cases of shoulder dystocia
- A mother who is obese
- An extra large baby
- Pregnant with twins, triplets or more
- Late labor
- Late delivery
- Induced labor
Preventing shoulder dystocia is possible in most cases
An attentive physician will take note of the risk factors for shoulder dystocia and, in the majority of cases, the physician can prevent this injury from happening. For example, with an overweight or diabetic mother, the doctor will monitor the birth for any signs of complications and perform a cesarean section to bypass the threat of injury. When multiple risk factors for shoulder dystocia are present, a physician might schedule a cesarean section automatically as a special precaution.
What parents should do after a baby is born with shoulder dystocia
Because most instances of shoulder dystocia are preventable, parents of babies born with this condition should investigate the matter closely to determine what went wrong during the birth. Since physicians will rarely assume responsibility for their mistakes due to their fear of being held financially liable, parents may want to seek out the opinion of a professional who is familiar with both the medical and liability aspects of a shoulder dystocia birth injury lawsuit.