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A Special Delivery with Shoulder Dystocia


Table of Contents

You want your baby entering the world in pristine condition, but Shoulder Dystocia can cause all sorts of issue for the child and the mother. SD occurs during labor when the baby’s shoulders get stuck as they pass through the birth canal. This can be extremely dangerous because the baby can sustain injuries to their arms or shoulders, the baby’s brain could be deprived of oxygen…resulting in brain damage, and the mother’s tissues (such as cervix, uterus, or vagina) could tear, causing excessive bleeding.

Shoulder Dystocia can cause the child’s hand to resemble a claw. No one wants their baby to look like Gollum, let alone suffer from nerve damage, pain, and even mild paralysis. That’s not even the worst of it. Sometimes it can get so bad, brachial plexus palsy occurs where the nerves are torn, moved, or completely detached. Luckily, shoulder dystocia is preventable. In addition to monitoring and quelling risk factors such as maternal diabetes, induced labor, epidural use, and maternal obesity, doctors can monitor for signs of SD and schedule an emergency C-section. If this fails to prevent injuries, they can later be treated with physical therapy, massages, and surgery.

The good news is that in most cases of SD, the doctors and staff are able to perform special maneuvers (such as applying pressure to the mother’s abdomen) to prevent injury to the mother or baby. Even if not totally successful, less than 10 percent of babies with injuries after SD sustain permanent complications.

If you happen to fall in the category of those less than 10 percent, you have a right to claim damages. A woman who alleged permanent injuries and disability to her child won a negligence lawsuit in Medford, Oregon in 2015, and was awarded $1 million. According to the plaintiff, when the signs of SD became apparent, the doctor failed to apply pressure to the mother’s abdomen. In addition, the doctor used excessive traction, which led to the child’s injuries. Because of this, the baby was born with torn shoulder nerves that might never heal. The baby has had three surgeries by the age of six.

Hopefully, you will never experience anything like this. To keep the odds low, make sure to talk with your doctor about any potential risk factors like having a petite maternal stature (or obese), abnormal pelvis shape, and gestational diabetes. There are also risk factors to know during pregnancy like a large fetal size or an abnormally long labor time. It’s important to know that the risk of SD goes up if your baby has had it and you get pregnant again, so be sure to let your doctor know. If you or your family has had a negative experience involving shoulder dystocia, get in touch with Reich and Binstock today, and we’ll make sure you get the compensation you deserve.



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