Shoulder Dystocia Can Cause Life-Long Defects or Death
What Is Shoulder Dystocia?
How Common Is Shoulder Dystocia?
What Are the Risk Factors Associated with Shoulder Dystocia?
- Macrosomia: when a baby weighs more than 8 pounds, 13 ounces. But most vaginally born babies with macrosomia don’t have shoulder dystocia. This is because most cases of this type of birth trauma are babies with normal weights. Still, macrosomia can raise risks.
- Having preexisting diabetes or gestational diabetes. Diabetes is when your body has too much sugar in your blood. In some cases, diabetes can be a risk factor for having a large baby.
- Having shoulder dystocia in a previous pregnancy can raise your chances of having this kind of birth trauma with a later pregnancy.
- Being pregnant with twins, triplets, or other multiples raises your chances of shoulder dystocia.
- Being overweight or gaining too much weight during pregnancy is another risk factor.
- Receiving oxytocin to induce labor can raise your risks of shoulder dystocia.
- Getting an epidural to reduce pain during labor can also raise risks of shoulder dystocia.
- Having a very short or very long second stage of labor. This is the part of labor where a woman starts pushing to give birth.
- An assisted vaginal birth, also called an operative vaginal birth, can raise your chances of shoulder dystocia. In an assisted vaginal birth, a doctor will use tools such as forceps or a vacuum to pull a baby through the birth canal. With forceps, the doctor will put them around the baby’s head to guide the it out of the vaginal canal. Meanwhile, a vacuum is a suction cup that goes around the baby’s head to guide it out of the vaginal canal.
Shoulder Dystocia Symptoms
- When the baby’s shoulders don’t descend
- Difficulty in face and chin delivery
- Retracting difficulties
- Fetal head restitution failure
- Downward traction on the fetal head
What Are the Postpartum Side Effects of Shoulder Dystocia?
Problems for the Baby
- Collarbone and arm fractures is a common result of shoulder dystocia.
- Brachial plexus nerve damage, also known as Erb’s palsy. These nerves extend from the spinal cord in the neck and down the arm.
- Asphyxia, also known as lack of oxygen to the body. In severe cases, this can cause injury or shoulder dystocia death. But asphyxia is very rare.
- Pneumothorax, which is a collection of gas between the chest wall and the lungs.
Problems for the Mother
- Postpartum hemorrhage, which is heavy bleeding after birth.
- Severe tearing of the perineum, which is the stretch of skin between the vagina and the rectum.
- Uterine or bladder rupture which is a rare condition when the uterus or bladder tears during labor.
- Cervical tears, which is when the cervix tears during birth.
- Dislocation of the sacroiliac joint, which happens when both the anterior and the posterior columns of the pelvic ring are disrupted. When this happens, the hemipelvis rotates internally with vertical displacement.
- Symphyseal separation is the excessive movement of a part of the pelvis called the pubic symphysis.
How to Prevent Shoulder Dystocia
- The McRoberts maneuver, which is when you press your thighs against your belly.
- Suprapubic pressure, which is when your doctor presses on your lower belly above your pubic bone.
- Helping your baby’s arm out of the birth canal.
- Reaching into the vagina to attempt to turn the baby.
- Turning a mother onto all fours.
- Giving an episiotomy, which is a surgical cut at the vaginal opening during childbirth. This is generally not a routine method. It’s only done when a larger opening would be helpful during birth.
- Doing a c-section to prevent the baby’s shoulders getting stuck in the pelvis.
Treatment for Postpartum Shoulder Dystocia Side Effects
Treatment for the Baby
Because there are many possible side effects from shoulder dystocia, there are dozens of treatments available for mother and baby.
Collarbone and Arm Fractures
- Providing the mother with extra oxygen if the asphyxia happens before delivery
- Suctioning fluid away from the baby’s airways
- Putting the baby on a respirator
- Putting the baby in a hyperbaric oxygen tank
- Induced hypothermia to cool the baby and help prevent brain damage
- Medication to regulate blood pressure
- Dialysis to support the kidneys and remove excess waste from the body
- Medication to control seizures
- IV nutrition
- A breathing tube with nitric oxide
- Life support with a heart and lung pump
Treatment for the Mother
All Tears from Birth
Sacroiliac Joint Dislocation
How Does Medical Malpractice Cause Shoulder Dystocia?
- Excessive force: shoulder dystocia during birth may have been caused because your doctor used excessive force while trying to deliver the baby in a better position.
- Failure to expect shoulder dystocia: your doctor should expect shoulder dystocia due to the presence of certain risk factors. A lawsuit based on this allegation claims that a doctor should’ve offered specific types of delivery to avoid the possibility of shoulder dystocia.
Damages for a Shoulder Dystocia Case
- Past and present medical expenses. This includes costs of physical therapy, surgeries, adaptive equipment, counseling, and more.
- Lost wages from you or your child’s injury.
- Future earnings losses if you or your child can’t work in the future due to injuries.
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress and loss of quality of life.
Is Shoulder Dystocia Death Possible?
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