Driggers, Schultz & Herbst
Attorneys and Counselors

What is shoulder dystocia?

“How are the mother and baby?” is a common question you can expect to hear after the birth of your child. While many births are routine, others prevent challenges and dangers to the mother, the child, or both. This risk is why it’s important for your family’s delivery team to identify potential pregnancy risks and adjust properly.

Challenging deliveries can lead to many birth injuries to the child, specifically. Bruising and fractures to the infant can happen in complicated deliveries where the doctor uses too much force or medical tools.

Causes of shoulder dystocia

One possible injury is shoulder dystocia. Shoulder dystocia occurs during natural births when the infant’s shoulders fail to present themselves after the doctor delivers its head. Experts estimate that shoulder dystocia occurs in as many as two percent of deliveries but is permanent in as many as 10 percent of these cases. If the injuries are temporary, they typically heal within a year.

Improper treatment of shoulder dystocia can lead to central nervous system problems, broken bones, and more. Shoulder dystocia can also cause cuts, bleeding, and psychological trauma to the mother birthing the child.

Can doctors prevent it?

Experts believe that doctors can avoid shoulder dystocia by identifying risk factors in advance and opting for a c-section birth instead of a natural birth. Possible warning signs range from having a large baby, the mother being obese or diabetic. Induced births and certain pain medications during birth may also lead to shoulder dystocia.

Your delivery team has a duty to ensure that that the mother and child have a safe birth. Not only should they be able to identify the risks, but apply the proper techniques or even procedures, like a c-section, for preventing shoulder dystocia.

Birth injuries can have last effects for the child’s entire life and can affect their quality of life.