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How Common is a Shoulder Injury During Birth?

No one wants to think their baby will suffer injuries during birth. Unfortunately, shoulder injuries are common in newborns.

The most common injury to an infant’s shoulder during birth is known as shoulder dystocia. This injury occurs when a baby’s shoulder becomes stuck in the birth canal, typically behind the mother’s pubic bone. While shoulder injuries are more common in vaginal births, they can also occur during a Caesarean section. These injuries can be devastating and may be permanent. Shoulder dystocia is common, occurring in approximately one in every 200 births.

What is Shoulder Dystocia?

Shoulder dystocia typically occurs during the second stage of labor. The second stage of labor begins when the baby’s head moves from the uterus into the birth canal. As this stage progresses, the baby’s head emerges from the birth canal. At that point, the baby’s shoulder may become stuck behind the mother’s pubic bone or sacrum. This is shoulder dystocia. Shoulder dystocia is considered a medical emergency. When the shoulder becomes stuck, the umbilical cord may be placed under tremendous pressure and the baby may not get enough oxygen. The baby must be delivered quickly to ensure it receives the oxygen it needs to prevent further injury.

Can Shoulder Dystocia be Predicted?

It is impossible to predict when shoulder dystocia will occur, but there are some factors that place a baby and mother at risk. These include:

Shoulder dystocia is also more likely to occur when labor progresses either very slowly or too quickly. While it is not possible to predict shoulder dystocia in any given delivery, healthcare professionals are responsible for knowing the factors that place the mother and child at risk and for mitigating that risk as much as possible.

How Should Doctors React to Shoulder Dystocia?

Shoulder dystocia usually happens very quickly. Doctors, nurses, and the entire birthing team are expected to react quickly, too. The most important action to take after shoulder dystocia is to dislodge the shoulder and remove the child from the birth canal as quickly as possible. This can be done through a series of well-known special obstetrical maneuvers. Unfortunately, sometimes medical professionals fail to perform the maneuvers properly and instead pull too hard on the baby’s head. When this happens, it can result in severe nerve damage. In other cases, medical professionals take too long to ack, which can result in neonatal hypoxia, brain injury, and disabilities such as cerebral palsy.

Our Ohio Birth Injury Lawyers Can Help After Shoulder Dystocia

If your child suffered from a complication of shoulder dystocia, our Cleveland birth injury lawyers can determine if the injury was a result of medical negligence. At the Eisen Law Firm, our knowledgeable attorneys are dedicated to helping parents with their birth injury claims, and we want to put our experience to work for you. Call us today at (216) 687-0900 or fill out our online form to schedule a meeting with one of our attorneys and to learn more about how we can help.