Overview of Shoulder Dystocia

Shoulder dystocia is when the shoulder becomes stuck during the birthing process, which can create a difficult labor and delivery. This can result in birth injuries to the child, some of which may cause serious complications. If a doctor acts negligently when addressing this problem, he or she may be held liable in a malpractice claim. Patients harmed by medical negligence may seek an Ohio injury lawyer in Cleveland to help file a claim. 

What are the causes and risk factors of shoulder dystocia? 

A larger sized baby is a common cause for this complication; however, it can still happen with an average-sized baby. Difficulty fitting through the birth canal can also be the result of a small pelvic opening.

Recognizing risk factors may help detect what is oftentimes an unpredictable complication. Yet not every instance of shoulder dystocia will have risk factors present, nor will the presence of these risk factors always mean that the shoulders will get stuck.

Some of the risk factors that may indicate the possibility of shoulder dystocia include: 

  • larger sized baby;
  • mother is obese;
  • maternal diabetes;
  • previous delivery with shoulder dystocia;
  • multiple pregnancy (twins, triplets, etc.); and
  • delivery past due date. 

In many cases, this complication isn’t known until labor and delivery has already begun. But there may be ways to reduce or prevent injury; for instance, adjusting the baby’s position so the shoulder has clearance to safely pass through the birth canal. Pressing on the mother’s belly may also help.

An episiotomy (surgical cut in the vagina) may be necessary in some cases to make the opening a bit wider for the baby to pass. For some women, an emergency cesarean section may be necessary, particularly if the mother’s or baby’s health is at risk. Failure to take appropriate action may lead to complications. In this case, parents may consult an Ohio injury lawyer in Cleveland about legal options if a birth injury is the result.

What complications and birth injuries are possible by way of shoulder dystocia? 

Most of the complications impact the baby, but the mother could suffer some as well.

Mothers can experience: 

  • heavier than normal bleeding;
  • bruising of the bladder; and
  • tears in the vagina, cervix, uterus or rectum.

Complications that can impact the baby include fractures to the clavicle (collarbone) or arm due to the trauma from the shoulder getting stuck. These tend to heal with time and don’t typically cause further problems.

Brachial plexus injuries are another complication. These are nerves that can be injured when the shoulder is pulled, affecting not only the shoulder but the hand and arm on the side of the body that’s injured. These birth injuries may result in chronic pain, stiff joints, loss of sensation and even permanent disability, such as weakness or paralysis.

Birth asphyxia (deprivation of oxygen) is another potential complication of shoulder dystocia. As a result it may cause brain damage that ranges from mild to severe.

If shoulder dystocia caused serious complications, should an Ohio injury lawyer in Cleveland be contacted? 

Although shoulder dystocia can’t always be prevented, there may be circumstances in which there was a failure to take appropriate measures to reduce the risk of a birth injury. Whenever there are concerns regarding complications during labor and delivery and whether they may be associated with medical negligence, parents may seek legal advice from an Ohio injury lawyer in Cleveland.

Mellino Robenalt LLC can help determine if a claim is warranted. Call 440-333-3800 to set up an appointment with an Ohio injury lawyer in Cleveland to discuss complications or a birth injury associated with shoulder dystocia that was not properly addressed by a medical professional.