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What Is Shoulder Dystocia And How Can It Affect A Birth

One of the most serious delivery complications is known as shoulder dystocia. While shoulder dystocia should not lead to permanent consequences - but if a doctor, nurse or midwife makes any mistakes, any kind of dystocia can lead to serious problems for the mother and baby.

If a doctor fails to respond to shoulder dystocia by performing the right techniques or procedures at the right time, he or she may commit medical malpractice. This endangers the life and health of both the child and the mother.

The word "dystocia" refers to a lengthy or difficult delivery. The term "shoulder dystocia" describes a scenario in which a mother delivers the baby's head through the vagina but the rest of the infant's body remains stuck inside the birth canal. Doctors need to carefully maneuver the infant so that the shoulders can pass safely through the vagina.

In most cases, doctors react appropriately and prevent any permanent damage. However, if the shoulder dystocia is not properly managed, infants can suffer permanent nerve injuries in the shoulders, arms and hands. This condition, known as a brachial plexus injury, can cause long-lasting shaking or paralysis. Shoulder dystocia can also constrict an infant's oxygen supply, leading to serious brain damage. Mothers can also suffer injuries if a doctor makes a delivery mistake.

Families who believe that medical malpractice may have contributed to a loved one's birthing injury should consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer.

Source: March of Dimes, "Pregnancy Complications: Shoulder Dystocia," Dec. 2007

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