Many individuals have the false impression that birth injuries only occur in developing countries, where doctors don’t assist with childbirth or residents don’t have access to the latest technology. That’s not the case.
Countless babies and mothers suffer injuries during the childbirth process annually in the U.S. One of the more common injuries that babies suffer is shoulder dystocia. The unfortunate part about this medical condition is that it’s often preventable, provided that doctors closely monitor their patients.
Why does shoulder dystocia occur?
Data compiled by the March of Dimes shows that at least 3% of childbirths result in shoulder dystocia. A baby would typically move through a mother’s pelvis into their birth canal during the childbirth process. There are some situations, however, in which a baby’s shoulder blades end up becoming trapped within a mother’s pelvis.
A situation where shoulder blades become stuck during the childbirth process can result in the baby suffering damage to their brachial plexus nerves that run from a person’s neck into their arm. Any damage to these can leave behind lasting functional impairments. Arm fractures or broken collarbones may also result from a baby’s shoulder blades becoming trapped within a mother’s pelvis.
How can doctors prevent shoulder dystocia?
Shoulder dystocia cases are largely preventable. Doctors must more closely monitor the following high-risk expectant mothers:
- Those with gestational diabetes
- Those who are overweight or obese
- Any mother carrying multiples
Doctors should prepare themselves to perform a Cesarean section (C-section) in any of the above situations to minimize the chances of shoulder dystocia occurring. Doctors should also do the same if there are indicators that a baby has macrosomia, which means they weigh over eight pounds.
The use of assisted birthing tools such as vacuums and epidurals and labor induction can cause shoulder dystocia to occur even with adequate monitoring. Repositioning a fetus too much in utero can also result in complications such as shoulder dystocia.
Shoulder dystocia can leave your child with significant functional impairments that affect their quality of life as they grow. You may be able to seek compensation by taking legal action if a doctor’s negligence or actions are to blame. You might be able to use that compensation to cover your child’s surgeries and other medical care and treatment in the future.