What is Shoulder Dystocia?

Shoulder dystocia is a medical condition in which a baby’s shoulder gets trapped or pinched behind the mother’s pubic bone during a vaginal delivery. The infant’s head delivers normally, but the shoulders become stuck.

Shoulder dystocia can cause a number of birth injuries to newborns, including bone fractures, damage to the nerves in the shoulders or neck, or Erb’s palsy. To resolve shoulder dystocia during delivery, the doctor or midwife must free the newborn’s trapped shoulder without breaking any bones, putting too much stress on the neck, or injuring the mother.

Moving the mother’s body can sometimes gently turn the newborn so that the shoulders come out naturally. The doctor or midwife may also move the baby to bring the shoulders out, although this presents a slightly higher risk. In about 30 percent of cases, unfortunately, nerve or bone damage harms the delicate newborn.

Risk factors for shoulder dystocia are well-known. They include a high birth weight, which is not unusual especially in second or later-born children. Delivering after the due date or delivering twins or triplets also increases the risk. A mother who had a newborn with shoulder dystocia or Erb’s palsy during a previous birth is also at a higher risk for the condition to repeat itself in a later delivery. A scheduled Caesarean section can reduce or eliminate the risk of shoulder dystocia.

If your child has suffered shoulder dystocia during birth, the experienced San Diego shoulder dystocia injury attorneys can help. Our legal team has the resources, dedication, and experience to help you determine what happened and hold any negligent parties accountable for the injuries. Contact us today for a free consultation.