When a mother is about to give birth to a baby, it is both an exciting and stressful time in the parent’s life. Unfortunately, there can be labor complications that can impact both the mother and the baby. Shoulder dystocia is a common birth problem that affects every 1 in 150 women and babies who have vaginal births.
What is Shoulder Dystocia?
Shoulder dystocia occurs when a baby leaves the birth canal as the head emerges, but the shoulder becomes stuck against the mother’s pubic bone. Once this problem occurs, the baby will require additional help in getting the shoulder free to be fully delivered. The healthcare provider or midwife may use their hand, forceps or vacuum-extraction device to reposition the baby and free the shoulder so that the baby can be fully delivered.
Signs that Shoulder Dystocia Has Occurred
There are some factors and conditions that can increase the risk of shoulder dystocia, but healthy women who have no medical issues may experience shoulder dystocia with their child during labor. A mother can deliver a baby with shoulder dystocia even when there was no difficulty during labor. However, there are signs of shoulder dystocia that a prudent nurse or physician should note if they are reasonably observant.
Both the mother and the baby may show signs that shoulder dystocia happened during childbirth. For the mother, she may experience vaginal tears, rectum tears, or tearing of the cervix or uterus. She may also have heavy bleeding after birth, called a postpartum hemorrhage.
Due to the baby’s shoulder getting caught on the mother’s pubic bone, there may be a stretching of the nerves in the neck area. This medical issue is called a brachial plexus injury. A baby may experience a loss of movement along the arm where they cannot flex or rotate it. The loss of movement is called brachial palsy, or Erb’s palsy. In severe cases, the baby may experience permanent problems with the arm region.
Other signs of an injury to the baby may be bruising or lacerations on the head caused by forceps or vacuum-extraction devices when trying to free the baby’s shoulder during delivery. There may also be fractures to the arm or shoulder. In extreme conditions, a baby can suffer brain damage or death due to the lack of oxygen if the delivery process is delayed too long.
What to Do If You and Your Child Experiences Shoulder Dystocia
If you suspect your baby has been injured by the negligence of a medical professional during delivery or from negligent pediatric care, you should contact an Austin birth injury attorney right away. Such injuries are not uncommon unfortunately. In 2016, the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project determined that there were nearly 157,000 avoidable injuries that occurred to mothers and newborns in the United States during childbirth. When a mother and infant are placed into such a vulnerable position, they should be assured top quality care offered by healthcare professionals and medical organizations. They should not have to worry about possible injury or death caused due to the fault of others.
If you are a mother who has recently had a baby that experienced shoulder dystocia, contact The Cagle Law Firm to speak with an experienced Austin birth injury lawyer. We will offer you a free consultation to evaluate your medical circumstances and the legal cause of your injuries. We can provide you with legal representation that will help you and your family manage any medical requirements that will come up in the future, and make sure that your family can move on with their lives in the best manner possible. Call us today for a no risk legal assessment of how we can help you today. (512) 371-6101.