Birth Injury – Shoulder dystocia

More than 200,000 babies are born annually within the state of Florida, as reported by Florida Health. Unfortunately, some of these babies suffer various types of birth injury as a result of the negligence of healthcare staff during delivery. Shoulder dystocia is one complication that can occur during the birthing process that can cause serious injury to mom and baby.

Shoulder dystocia occurs if the baby’s head is born but the child’s shoulder becomes trapped inside of the birth canal. This rare complication is more likely to occur if the baby is large; if the baby is not well-positioned to move down through the pelvis during birth; or if the mother is not properly positioned and room in the pelvis is restricted.

After a baby’s head emerges, the head and body turn sideways in a normal birth to allow for the shoulders and body to move easily through the pelvis on the next contraction. When shoulder dystocia happens, the normal process does not occur. The anterior shoulder may become stuck behind the pubic bone or the posterior shoulder may become stuck on the sacrum.

When the baby becomes stuck in the birth canal due to shoulder dystocia, serious complications can result. The umbilical cord may be crushed so the baby may not get enough oxygen. The child may also suffer a brachial plexus injury (BPI), which occurs when the nerves in the shoulder and arm are stretched too much.

Prompt treatment is needed to minimize the risk of complications. The mother may be moved to a different position and medical professionals may need to press on the mother’s stomach above the pubic bone to help release the baby. An episiotomy may be necessary; the baby’s collar bone may have to be broken to free the shoulder; or an emergency cesarean section may be needed.

Shoulder dystocia happens in around one out of every 150 births. A baby normally recovers if doctors acted quickly to free the child. Unfortunately, cognitive impairment, cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy and death could occur if medical care providers fail to respond appropriately in this emergency situation.

If substandard care was provided and complications due to shoulder dystocia occur, a Florida birth injury lawyer should be consulted for help pursuing a claim against care providers.