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Shoulder Dystocia

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When your child sustains an injury at birth, the happiest day of your life could quickly turn into one of your worst. Preventable labor and delivery complications can cause serious injuries to delicate newborns. Doctors, nurses, midwives, and anesthesiologists all have a vital role to play in the labor, delivery, and care of your newborn. One mistake could be disastrous for your child and could result in permanent disability.

What Is Shoulder Dystocia?

Shoulder dystocia is the medical term for a complication that arises during delivery where the baby’s shoulder gets stuck inside of the mother. If not diagnosed quickly, the results can be catastrophic and life-threatening for both mother and child. Although this complication can occur with little to no warning, calm and effective management of this complication can ensure the safety of everyone.

The single most common risk factor associated with shoulder dystocia is the use of vacuum or forceps during delivery. Large babies can get “stuck” inside of the mother and fail to progress down the birth canal. When this occurs, doctors may turn to forceps or vacuum extraction as a method for delivering the baby. If the baby’s shoulder gets stuck during the delivery, serious injury can result.

While any delivery can result in shoulder dystocia, there are certain women who are at a higher risk for delivering babies with shoulder dystocia:

  • Women who have previously given birth to large babies
  • Mothers who are carrying multiples
  • Women with gestational diabetes

Doctors are responsible for identifying these risks and taking the appropriate measures to monitor labor and delivery very carefully. When shoulder dystocia occurs, emergency Caesarean section surgery is often necessary to remove the baby and prevent deadly consequences. A physician or midwife may also attempt to maneuver the baby into the proper birthing position by performing the McRoberts maneuver, suprapubic pressure, internal rotation, or the Zavanelli maneuver.

Injuries from Shoulder Dystocia

If the labor and delivery doctor or midwife fails to perform the appropriate maneuver or uses too much force during the procedure, you or your baby could sustain serious injuries, including:

  • Brain damage
  • Broken bones
  • Permanent nerve damage
  • Erb’s or Klumpke’s palsy
  • Maternal hemorrhage
  • Lacerations
  • Uterine ruptures

While the presence of shoulder dystocia is not preventable, the steps taken during delivery can ensure that your child remains unharmed throughout the birthing process. If shoulder dystocia is not identified quickly or if it is treated incorrectly, you may have cause to file a medical malpractice claim against the physician or medical team responsible for your baby’s birth injury.

Contact Kelley/Uustal at (954) 522-6601. Meeting with a Fort Lauderdale birth injury attorney from our firm is completely free of charge.

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