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What should you know about shoulder dystocia?

Most pregnant women expect that they will be able to deliver their baby safely, and that’s exactly what happens in most cases. Once they go to a birth center or hospital, their medical team should closely monitor the mother and baby. This can help to prevent serious issues.

One issue that can occur is shoulder dystocia, which occurs when the baby’s shoulder or shoulders can’t fit through the birth canal, but the baby’s head has already been delivered. This situation can lead to significant harm to the mother and her baby.

Danger to the baby

Shoulder dystocia poses significant risks to the baby. These include brachial plexus injuries, which can lead to weakness or paralysis of the arm. There’s also the risk of hypoxia, which means the baby doesn’t receive enough oxygen, leading to brain damage or death. Fractures to the baby’s clavicle may also occur as the delivery team attempts to free the baby.

Risks to the mother

Shoulder dystocia also poses a danger to the mother. The effort to dislodge the baby can cause significant trauma to the mother’s birth canal, leading to tearing or severe bleeding. In some cases, it may necessitate emergency procedures, such as a cesarean section. Additionally, the condition can lead to postpartum hemorrhage or uterine rupture, both of which are serious medical emergencies requiring immediate attention.

Prevention of harm

Preventing harm from shoulder dystocia involves several strategies focused on anticipating and managing the condition. Prenatal care plays a critical role, with healthcare providers assessing risk factors such as maternal diabetes, obesity, history of large babies or previous shoulder dystocia.

During delivery, prompt recognition of the condition is crucial. Medical professionals may employ maneuvers designed to dislodge the baby’s shoulder safely. Determining what’s appropriate requires intensive consideration by the medical team because the action plan must be based on how the baby and mother handle the situation.

When harm occurs as a result of malpractice during a shoulder dystocia delivery, victims must get medical assistance. They may opt to pursue a medical malpractice claim, but this can be a complex undertaking. Working with a legal representative who can determine what happened exactly can help to make the process more straightforward for the victim and their family.