Shoulder Dystocia: Causes, Complications, and Legal Support

Shoulder dystocia is a rare, unpredictable, yet serious complication that can occur during childbirth, wherein the baby’s shoulder becomes lodged behind the mother’s pelvic bone, delaying or obstructing delivery.

Although it can largely be managed with immediate medical intervention, negligence, and improper handling can lead to severe consequences for both mother and child. In such cases, the involved families have the legal right to seek justice and compensation.

In this guide, we will explore shoulder dystocia — its causes, risk factors, potential complications, and preventative measures. We will also delve into the legal process and how the skilled attorneys at Robinson & Associates in Maryland can professionally support and represent affected families in their quest for fair compensation.

1. What Causes Shoulder Dystocia?

Shoulder dystocia occurs when the baby’s head emerges during delivery, but one or both shoulders become stuck behind the mother’s pelvic bone. This complication can happen due to several factors, including:

A. Large fetal size: Babies weighing more than 8.8 pounds (macrosomia) have a higher risk of experiencing shoulder dystocia during delivery.

B. Maternal obesity: Mothers with obesity may have a narrower birth canal, increasing the risk of shoulder dystocia.

C. Gestational diabetes: Women with gestational diabetes may give birth to larger babies, which increases the risk of this complication.

D. Prolonged labor: A longer labor period can contribute to shoulder dystocia, especially if the baby’s size or position makes safe delivery difficult.

2. Risk Factors and Prevention

Several risk factors can increase the likelihood of shoulder dystocia, some of which include:

A. Previous shoulder dystocia: If a woman has experienced this complication in a prior delivery, her chances of recurrence increase.

B. Maternal age: Older mothers, particularly over 35, may face a higher risk of shoulder dystocia.

C. Birth induction: Inducing labor can increase the likelihood of this complication, especially if the baby is not in the optimal birthing position.

D. Multiple gestations: Twin or multiple gestation pregnancies can increase the risk of shoulder dystocia due to larger cumulative birth weights.

To prevent shoulder dystocia, healthcare providers should conduct thorough prenatal assessments, monitor maternal weight and blood sugar levels, and perform accurate fetal size measurements. In some cases, a planned C-section might be recommended to avoid shoulder dystocia, especially if the risk factors suggest a high likelihood of complications.

3. Potential Complications

If shoulder dystocia is not managed promptly and properly, it can result in a range of complications for both mother and baby:

A. Brachial plexus injuries: The entrapment can damage the baby’s brachial plexus nerves, affecting arm function and causing conditions like Erb’s palsy or Klumpke’s palsy.

B. Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE): Reduced or prolonged oxygen deprivation can lead to brain injury and neurological disorders in the infant.

C. Fractures: In severe cases, shoulder dystocia can cause fractures to the clavicle or humerus.

D. Maternal complications: The mother may suffer postpartum hemorrhage or significant injury to the uterus, cervix, or vagina due to shoulder dystocia.

4. Treatment and Management

When shoulder dystocia occurs, immediate and appropriate medical intervention is crucial. Healthcare providers may use the following management techniques:

A. McRoberts maneuver: The mother’s legs are positioned against her abdomen, widening the pelvis and allowing the baby’s shoulder to pass through.

B. Suprapubic pressure: Applied to the mother’s lower abdomen, this pressure can help dislodge the baby’s shoulder from behind the pelvic bone.

C. Internal rotation: A healthcare provider may attempt to rotate the baby inside the birth canal to facilitate a safer delivery.

D. Emergency C-section: In extreme cases, an urgent C-section may be performed to guarantee the baby’s safe delivery.

5. Legal Ramifications and Medical Malpractice

In cases where shoulder dystocia results from medical negligence or improper management, families may have the legal right to seek compensation for injuries and damages sustained. Instances of medical malpractice related to shoulder dystocia may include:

A. Failure to properly assess or recognize risk factors during prenatal care

B. Inadequate monitoring of mother and baby during labor

C. Delayed or improper interventions during a shoulder dystocia event

D. Use of excessive force during delivery, causing injury to the baby or mother

6. Seeking Legal Representation in Shoulder Dystocia Cases

For Maryland families affected by shoulder dystocia resulting from medical negligence, a skilled attorney can provide invaluable support throughout the legal process. This support includes:

A. Assessing the viability of your case

B. Investigating the circumstances of your child’s birth and identifying potential negligence

C. Gathering medical records and expert testimony

D. Negotiating settlements or representing you in court to secure fair compensation

Partner with Maryland’s Top Legal Experts in Shoulder Dystocia Cases

Understanding the complexities of shoulder dystocia is essential for those affected by this rare but potentially severe childbirth complication. Knowledge about the causes, risk factors, management, and potential legal implications empowers families to make informed decisions regarding their child’s care and well-being.

If your family has experienced the consequences of shoulder dystocia resulting from medical negligence, we encourage you to contact the knowledgeable and compassionate attorneys at Robinson & Associates in Maryland. Our legal experts will provide a thorough evaluation of your case and guide you through the complex legal process, advocating for your rights and pursuing fair compensation.

Reach out to our Maryland medical malpractice attorney today to secure a brighter, more secure future for your family and ensure that those responsible for your child’s injuries are held accountable!

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