What Exactly Is Shoulder Dystocia?

When a baby is being born, the delivery room can be a chaotic place. Hopefully, the chaos is only on the surface, but so many things can happen in normal birth. Some deliveries get extremely complicated. One of these complications is Shoulder Dystocia—a condition that occurs in about 3% of all U.S. births.

Shoulder Dystocia happens when one of the baby’s shoulders gets stuck behind the mother’s pelvic bone and the baby’s head retracts back into the birth canal.

If you believe your child has suffered due to shoulder dystocia medical malpractice, you may be entitled to compensation, contact the Philadelphia medical malpractice attorneys at The Weitz Firm, LLC.

What Happens When Shoulder Dystocia Occurs?

Because of the baby’s head emerging and retracting into the birth canal, Shoulder Dystocia is commonly referred to as “Turtle Sign.” Once recognized, it requires emergency intervention to safely deliver the baby. Delivery should take place as soon as possible.

If the baby’s torso is not delivered within five minutes of the head, the chances of brain damage, neurologic injury or fetal death rise drastically. In rare cases, there are risks of Brachial Plexus or damaged spinal nerves that cause the arms to become weakened.

Potentially, this obstetrical emergency poses a substantial risk to both the mother and her baby. A well-prepared obstetrical staff will proceed through a series of tried-and-true steps to keep both the mother and baby safe. The mother will be told to stop pushing, and in no order, these maneuvers include:

  • The McRobert’s Maneuver—Flexing the mother’s hips and knees against her abdomen. This permits the baby’s torso to emerge from the birth canal.
  • Suprapubic pressure—applying pressure to manually dislodge the shoulder and torso.
  • Rubin’s and Wood’s Screw—A more invasive maneuver, requiring placing a hand into the birth canal to rotate the baby for delivery.

Risk Factors to Know Before the Birth

It is hard to see Shoulder Dystocia coming, but there are several recognized risk factors. These risks are broken down into three categories: risks associated with the mother, the fetus, and the conditions during labor.

  • The risk factors increase if the mother:
      • Has abnormal pelvic anatomy
      • Is of advanced age
      • Has diabetes
      • Experiences a post-term pregnancy
      • Is obese (a BMI of 30 or more)
      • Has a history of Shoulder Dystocia deliveries
  • The risk factors increase if a fetus:
      • Is a male baby
      • If the baby has macrosomia (weighs more than eight pounds)
  • The risks increase during labor if:
    • The active stage of labor is extended
    • A vacuum or forceps is used to assist delivery
    • Pitocin is used to induce labor
    • Epidural anesthesia is administered

When Should I Contact A Lawyer?

The Philadelphia medical malpractice attorneys at The Weitz Firm, LLC understand what it takes to go up against aggressive insurance carriers to secure maximum compensation. If you feel like your child has been impacted by Shoulder Dystocia, we can be by your side from the beginning to the successful end of your case. Contact us for a free consultation of your case by clicking here or calling 267-587-6240.



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