English English Spanish Spanish

What are the risks of shoulder dystocia?

Birth injuries generally occur before, during or after labor, and often happen due to mistakes made by the medical staff on hand. Shoulder dystocia is an example of one of these potential mistakes leading to injury.

This injury happens during labor or delivery and can severely impact both the mother and child. But how common is it? How does it affect the two? And how serious is this condition?

What is shoulder dystocia?

The March of Dimes discusses the issue of shoulder dystocia. This issue occurs when the baby’s shoulder gets stuck in the mother’s pelvis. It occurs in anywhere from .2 percent to 3 percent of all births around the country, and it can, unfortunately, cause injury both for the mother and baby.

How does serious injury occur?

While many victims fully recover, this does not account for the cases in which the most serious effects occur. For babies, the problems may range from lack of oxygen causing brain damage or death, to broken bones. Mothers can suffer from uterine rupture, tearing during birth and excessive bleeding that may result in death.

Several factors can contribute to the chance of this injury happening. This includes diabetes, obesity, a baby weighing more than 8 pounds and 13 ounces, delivering twins or multiples, or having a previous delivery that involved shoulder dystocia.

Other factors can include receiving an epidural, excessively long or short push sessions, or a doctor needing to use tools like vacuums or forceps to assist in the birthing process. Unfortunately, doctor error can sometimes account for additional injury due to incorrect action or even negligence.