Dangers of shoulder dystocia during labor and delivery

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Shoulder dystocia is a painful birth injury that can hurt both mothers and their babies. While shoulder dystocia is fairly uncommon in Texas, it still occurs during some births. There are several risk factors for shoulder dystocia. When doctors think that it might happen because of the baby’s size or the mother’s risk factors, they may perform Caesarian sections.

What is shoulder dystocia?

Shoulder dystocia happens when one or both of a baby’s shoulders become lodged in the mother’s pelvis. This can make labor much more prolonged and difficult. While many babies who experience shoulder dystocia are born healthy, some infants and mothers suffer serious problems because of it. Shoulder dystocia occurs in approximately 0.2% to 3% of births.

Risk factors for shoulder dystocia

While any woman can suffer from shoulder dystocia during labor and delivery, some risk factors increase the chance that it will happen. These include being pregnant with a baby who is 8 pounds and 13 ounces or larger, having gestational diabetes or preexisting diabetes, being pregnant with multiples, being overweight, or having experienced shoulder dystocia in a past pregnancy. Women who receive epidurals or oxytocin during labor are also at a higher risk of shoulder dystocia.
Shoulder dystocia can cause fractures to the infant’s arm or collarbone, brachial plexus injuries or asphyxia leading to brain injuries or death. Mothers may hemorrhage after giving birth, suffer serious tears to the perineum or suffer a ruptured uterus. In rare cases, an infection and sepsis might occur. An injured mother, or mother with an injured baby, who believes that her doctor failed to diagnose risk factors may want to talk to a medical malpractice lawyer.